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FDA: Don't Eat Monkfish

The FDA today warned consumers not to buy or eat monkfish
because it may actually be puffer fish containing a potentially lethal toxin
called tetrodotoxin.

The FDA's warning comes after two people in the Chicago area became ill
after eating homemade soup containing the mislabeled monkfish. One of those
people was hospitalized due to severe illness, says the FDA.

The FDA analyzed the fish and confirmed the presence of potentially
life-threatening levels of tetrodotoxin, which isn't found in real
monkfish.

If you've already got monkfish in your freezer or refrigerator, throw it
out, says the FDA. Tetrodotoxin isn't destroyed by cooking, freezing, or other
common methods of food preparation.

The FDA says the mislabeled fish were imported from China by Hong Chang
Corp. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Consumers concerned that they may have
purchased this fish should contact their retailer and ask if the product was
received from Hong Chang Corp.

The FDA allows puffer fish to be imported into the U.S. only under strict
provisions that minimize the risk of the toxin being present in the fish. The
recalled fish were not in compliance with those provisions.

The FDA says it's examining all imports from the Chinese supplier and will
take additional action, if warranted.

Boxes of Imported Fish

According to the FDA, a total of 282 22-pound boxes labeled as monkfish were
distributed to wholesalers in Illinois, California, and Hawaii beginning in
September 2006. These fish were then sold to restaurants or sold in stores. In
one instance, the retailer labeled the fish as "bok," the Korean name
for puffer fish.

The white 22-pound boxes were labeled in black ink. One box panel is labeled
as "FROZEN MONKFISH GUTTED AND HEAD-OFF" and "PRODUCT OF
CHINA." A second panel bears nutritional facts and the following text:
"Ingredients: Monk fish; Imported by: Hong Chang Corp, Santa Fe Springs, CA
90670; Product of China (P.R.C.)."

A third panel has a check box indicating the size as either "0.5-1"
or "1-2" and shows the net weight as 22 pounds. There are no
manufacturing codes on the box. The fish in the box are individually wrapped in
plastic bags with no labeling.

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By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
B)2005-2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved