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2 sick in suspected pufferfish poisoning

/ Source: The Associated Press

A frozen product labeled monkfish distributed in three states is being recalled after two Chicago area people became ill after eating it, the importer announced Thursday.

Hong Chang Corporation of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., said it is recalling the product labeled as monkfish because it may contain tetrodotoxin, a potent toxin.

While the frozen fish imported from China was labeled monkfish, the company said it is concerned that it may be pufferfish because this toxin is usually associated with certain types of pufferfish.

Eating foods containing tetrodotoxin can result in life-threatening illness or death and the toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing.

The company said two people in the Chicago area became ill after eating soup containing the fish. Analysis by the Food and Drug Administration confirmed the presence of the toxin.

Some 282 22-pound boxes of the fish were distributed to wholesalers in Illinois, California and Hawaii, according to the company beginning in September. The fish was sold in retail stores, restaurants and cash-and-carry stores in these regions.

The fish are individually packaged in clear plastic sleeves and placed in a plastic liner which is inside a cardboard box. There are no lot numbers on the box. Labels on one panel read “MONK FISH GUTTED AND HEAD-OFF PRODUCT OF CHINA."

A second box panel bears nutritional facts and the following, “Ingredients: Monk fish; Imported by: Hong Chang Corp., Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670; Product of China (P.R.C.).”

Consumers who have purchased this monkfish can return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Care should be exercised in handling the fish as the tetrodotoxin may be present on the skin and flesh of the fish. Wash hands thoroughly after handling.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-562-309-0068.

People who may have consumed these products and have concerns are encouraged to contact their health care provider. Illnesses associated with consumption of these products should be reported to the nearest FDA district offices and to the local health authority.