Malaysia’s Health department to act on pufferfish sale

An industry insider said only two out of over 120 species of pufferfish are considered safe to consume, making it risky to eat the fish.


Safety poser: The online post includes photos of fish that had been skinned and packed.

May 11, 2023

JOHOR BARU – Health officials will be reaching out to sellers who are still selling poisonous pufferfish (ikan buntal), says Johor executive councillor Ling Tian Soon.

The health and unity committee chairman said the Johor Health Department would look into the social media post of a woman who advertised “fresh pufferfish for sale” recently.

“I advise sellers to stop marketing the fish and the public should also refrain from purchasing the fish, which contains lethal toxins,” he said when contacted.

A search online found that among others, a Batu Pahat-based seller has been selling pufferfish on Facebook.

In a recent post, the seller advertised the fish as being fresh and encouraged those interested to send her a private message.

Along with the post were the hashtags #RasaDulu (try first), #TakdeRacun (no poison) and #JgnTakutMati (don’t be afraid of dying).

The post included photos of fish that has been skinned and packed into plastic containers.

Social media users have chided her for using the hashtags and selling the fish.

Among them was Ng Ai Lee, the daughter of an elderly couple from Kluang who passed away after unknowingly consuming pufferfish on March 25.

Ng Chuan Sing @ Eng Kuai Sin, 84, and his 83-year-old wife Lim Siew Guan had pufferfish for lunch, causing the elderly woman to experience breathing difficulties and shivers.

She died later that evening while Chuan Sing, who showed similar symptoms, slipped into a 10-day coma in the intensive care unit before succumbing on April 10.

On March 30, then Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said pufferfish which contained dangerous toxins were not allowed to be sold in Malaysia under Section 13 of the Food Act.

On May 7, Malaysia Fish Suppliers’ Association deputy president Tai Wai Sun also urged fishermen and fishmongers around the country to do the right thing and immediately stop selling the poisonous fish.

Tai said just moments after consuming the fish, the person would feel a tingling sensation on the lips followed by numbness.

He said there were more than 120 species of pufferfish worldwide but only two types were considered safe to consume, making it risky to eat the fish.

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