Restaurant keeps 2 Michelin stars after fugu poisoning

December 6, 2011, 8:45 pm

The Telegraph (U.K.) reports today that the Takeshi Yasuge, the chef at Fugu Fukuji restaurant in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district , was suspended after a customer was hospitalized with manifestations of fugu poisoning. Apparently, the woman demanded the the chef serve her the toxic puffer fish liver, an organ that concentrates toxin and is particularly dangerous. Despite being board-certified in fugu and presumably knowing better, the chef complied. Now he faces possible permanent loss of his license, fines, and even jail time.  In addition, the restaurant has been banned from serving fugu in the future. However, it retained its two prized Michelin stars.

According to AFP, the woman developed headache and numbness of her lips after eating the forbidden delicacy.  She was admitted to hospital but has since recovered and been released. It is not clear from news reports whether she required ventilatory support.

In a notorious 1975 incident, the well-known Kabuki actor, Bando Mitsugoro VIII, demanded that a Kyoto restaurant serve him four large portions of fugu liver. He insisted he could survive consuming the toxic organ.  He was wrong. Hours later he was dead of respiratory failure.

The blowfish poison — tetrodotoxin (TTX) — is the most deadly non-protein toxin found in nature. It blocks sodium channels, interfering with nerve conduction. Toxic manifestations start with perioral paresthesias, quickly followed by generalized weakness, ascending paralysis, and respiratory failure.

To read my Emergency Medicine News column on fugu, click here.

Of course, we couldn’t let a discussion of fugu pass by without linking to this classic episode from The Simpsons:

Related posts:

Tetrodotoxin reaches Europe: first case

Seafood Poisoning Review

What the Fugu – The Secret of Poison Sushi

Bud Light Commercial Too Toxic for the Super Bowl 


  1. Daniel Says:

    Ohhhhh Homer.8) another great post thanks

  2. Leon Says:

    Thank you, Daniel!