The NSW Food Authority advises fishers to avoid eating Spanish Mackerel above 10kgs (as advised by NSW industry experts), as there is an increased risk of ciguatera poisoning.
Commercial fishers, recreational fishers and consumers should not eat large Spanish Mackerel, as two recent Ciguatera poisoning incidents involving 20kg and 40kg fish that were caught and consumed on the mid north coast have been reported in NSW.
The Food Authority has been advised of an incident of ciguatera poisoning affecting 3 people after consuming a Spanish Mackerel caught off the coast of Crowdy Head late in March, and a second incident last week that affected one person who consumed Spanish Mackerel caught off the coast at Crescent Head. In both cases, the fish consumed were caught by recreational fishermen.
Similar outbreaks were reported 12 months ago on the mid north and far north NSW coast and the Gold Coast in Queensland.
More information on ciguatera poisoning can be found at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/industry/food-business-issues/fish-ciguatera-poisoning/
Ciguatera poisoning is a form of food poisoning. It is caused by eating warm water fin fish that carry ciguatera poison (toxin). Small plant eating fish eat toxic algae and in-turn are eaten by larger predatory fish like Spanish Mackerel.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually start one to 24 hours after eating a toxic fish. The time before onset of illness and the range of symptoms can depend on how much fish is eaten, which parts of the fish are eaten, how much toxin is in the fish and the individual susceptibility of the consumer.
How can you minimise the risk of ciguatera poisoning?
Ciguatera toxin does not affect the appearance, odour or taste of fish. Processes like cooking or freezing will not destroy it and there is no method for removing it from fish. To minimise the risk, commercial fishers and consumers should avoid eating large Spanish Mackerel (10kgs or more, in accordance with NSW industry experts) and avoid eating the head, roe, liver and viscera, as the toxin is concentrated in these areas. Ciguatera is more common in warmer northern waters of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Promptly seek medical attention from a hospital of GP at the onset of symptoms. If you are concerned about ciguatera poisoning contact your Local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 or if you would like further information contact the NSW Food Authority helpline on 1300 552 406