Like most humans, we prefer our meals to contain few, or ideally zero, traces of poison. However if you’re a fan of Fugu, the Japanese name for both the puffer fish and the dishes prepared from it, you probably don't relate.
An elegant (potentially deadly!) fugu preparation.
Filled with poisonous tetrodotoxin, the puffer fish, according to various reports, has an estimated toxicity that's up to 200 times more deadly than cyanide. Which pardon our pun, seems like overkill.
Fugu is so lethal that the cleaning and preparation of the fish is highly regulated by the Japanese government. And the licensing test for serving it is rigorous enough that only around a third of chefs pass. According to the Telegraph, consuming the fish “paralyzes the nerves and prevents the lungs from working. There is no antidote and death occurs within minutes.” Are you sold yet?
Now, however, dining on fugu looks like it's about to get a lot safer.
GrubStreet reports that Japanese company Manbou Corp claims to have created a special farm-raised version of the fish that is entirely non-poisonous. The company is in the process of lobbying the Japanese government to lift its strict regulations on fugu preparation in order to allow people to eat puffer fish liver again. (Apparently this is one of the tastiest, and of course most poisonous, puffer fish organs.) But some fear this development would leads consumers to mistakenly think they can eat puffer fish caught in the wild without all of the nasty side effects (i.e.: death).
Others in Japan believe this safe version of fugu takes away part of the enjoyment of consuming the dish. As one, possibly insane, man puts it, part of the thrill is “knowing that it might be the last meal that you ever eat.”
At the moment, Japan’s Food Safety Commission is mulling over Manbou Corp’s request and is expected to reach a decision in the next few months.
In the meantime we’ll just have to continue enjoying all the other non-lethal foods currently available to us.
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