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New Test Identifies Fish-Borne Poison Quickly, Reliably

November 9, 2011: 12:00 AM EST
Scientists in Japan have developed a test that quickly and reliably identifies a difficult-to-detect poison, ciguatoxin, that causes as many as 60,000 people a year to become sick from eating warm water fish such as red snapper and sea bass. The source of the toxin is tropical and subtropical marine algae eaten by smaller fish. The presence of the toxin is undetectable: contaminated fish taste, smell and look fine. The current test for the toxin, which uses mice, is time-consuming and often ineffective. The new test was able to identify 16 varieties of the toxin quickly using standard lab instruments.
Kentaro Yogi et al., "Detailed LC-MS/MS Analysis of Ciguatoxins Revealing Distinct Regional and Species Characteristics in Fish and Causative Alga from the Pacific", Analytical Chemistry, November 09, 2011, © American Chemical Society
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