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    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and
    Consumer Services (DOACS) have issued advisories warning consumers not to eat puffer
    fish.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and
    Consumer Services (DOACS) have issued advisories warning consumers not to eat puffer
    fish harvested from the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, area because these fish may contain a
    naturally occurring toxin that can cause serious illness or death.

    TOXIC PUFFER FISH IN FLORIDA
    Some species of Florida puffer fish such as the marbled and bandtail puffer fish have been
    known to be toxic for a long time. The recent concern regarding the food poisoning event
    linked to puffers caught in the Titusville, Indian River area has signaled an alert that perhaps
    other species of puffer fish may suddenly become toxic. For example, the southern puffer,
    which is not normally known to be toxic, may have suddenly become toxic for reasons yet
    unknown.

    There are several theories as to why puffers might be toxic. One theory considers that puffers
    produce the toxin themselves as a kind of defense mechanism against other predators.
    Another theory suggests that it is the bacteria that live naturally inside the puffers that
    produce toxins and they only produce these toxins in certain species of puffer fish. Another
    possibility that is currently being investigated is that other environmental factors could play a
    role. Possibilities are that some species of toxic microalgae may have entered into the food
    chain of puffers and they acquire the toxin when they feed on small animals or algae. FWC-
    FWRI scientists are currently working with colleagues from the Food and Drug
    Administration, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida
    Department of Health, and other agencies to test each of these hypotheses.









    Source - Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
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