Ciguatera toxins have no cure, aren’t killed by cooking, and can’t be detected by texture, taste, or smell.
The charter guest is thrilled with her catch and insists that the yacht chef prepare fish tacos. But, not so fast.
Certain carnivorous reef fish, including barracuda, grouper, amberjack, king mackerel, hogfish, even parrot fish, and red snapper, can be a risk for ciguatera fish poisoning.
No matter how the chef prepares that fish, ciguatera toxins are tough. They survive gastric acid, cooking, smoking, freezing, canning, salting, and pickling. And the toxins don’t change the fish’s texture, taste, or smell.
So if diners have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or tingling, they may have this type of food poisoning. Ciguatera symptoms usually develop within 3-6 hours, but can start 30 hours later. Other symptoms can include itching, metallic taste in the mouth, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to hot and cold.
Symptoms usually go away in a few days or weeks, but can last for years. And although they can can be treated, there is no cure.
Ciguatera can accumulate in fish that eat other fish with a microalgae called Gambier discus toxic usa, and this moves up the chain to the larger fish.
Capt. Jack Mitchell learned about this in the 1980s when he got his start on sportfishing yachts in Florida.
“Don’t eat big fish in warm water,” Mitchell warned.“If you think it’s too big, you are absolutely correct.”