The FDA has alerted seafood processors to the potential for ciguatera toxin in fish taken from the northern Gulf of Mexico, south of the Texas-Louisiana coastline and near a National Marine Sanctuary.
Ciguatera toxin is produced by naturally-occurring microscopic algae, and accumulates in fish on its way up the food chain. The species of affected fish mentioned in this FDA alert are grouper, snapper and hogfish caught within 10 miles of the Marine Sanctuary and amberjack and barracuda caught within 50 miles of the sanctuary.
Fish that is contaminated with ciguatera toxin look, smell and taste normal. The toxin, which can only be detected by lab tests, is very stable, and is not destroyed by either freezing or cooking.
Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning are uncomfortable, but rarely fatal. The symptoms usually appear within a few hours of eating toxin-containing fish and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness or tingling, muscle aches, and may last for several weeks. Please see the FDA notice for a full list of possible symptoms and contact your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms and have recently have eaten fish.