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Fears of Lionfish seafood poisoning diminish

Just be sure to avoid certain fishing areas

Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico lionfish had low ciguatoxin's which cause seafood poisoning except around some hot spots which should be avoided.
Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico lionfish had low ciguatoxin's which cause seafood poisoning except around some hot spots which should be avoided. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You can worry less about seafood poisoning from Lionfish as long as you know where the fish was caught.

The invasive fish taking over Florida waters is winding up on the dinner plate for many seafood lovers, but reef fish can accumulate ciguatoxins which cause seafood poisoning for those people eating infected fish.

As of 2018, there has been one suspected case of CFP from eating lionfish.

A study looked at lionfish from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico in 2012 and 2015 found it was relatively safe to consume lionfish since concentrations were below the United States Food and Drug Administration guidance levels for ciguatoxin.

However a danger existed for Lionfish caught in areas known to be high-risk regions in the central to eastern Caribbean.

53% of the Lionfish caught in the British Virgin Islands were infected with ciguatoxin compared to 5% in the Florida Keys.

Though measurable CTX was found in some locations, the majority of the samples (99.3%) contained CTX concentrations below the United States Food and Drug Administration guidance level of 0.1 ppb Caribbean ciguatoxin-1 (C-CTX-1) equivalents (eq.). Only 0.7% of lionfish tested contained more than 0.1 ppb C-CTX-1 eq.

Fish most commonly known to cause ciguatera fish poisoning include grouper, barracuda, snapper, jack, and mackerel.  

Unfortunately, ciguatoxin is heat-stable, so cooking will not detoxify the fish. Mahi, tuna and other pelagic fish should be free of ciguatera but be sure to know where the fish came from.

 


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