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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Puffer Perils (4)

By Han Bingbin (China Daily)

11:15, April 15, 2012

Though farm-raised fugu are generally considered to be less tasty, they are considerably safer.

According to Peng from the Jiangsu Cuisine Association, the poisons inside fugu are derived mainly from the seaweeds they eat. So, through changing their food supply, "poison-control breeding" can effectively reduce the toxicity, reportedly by as much as 95 percent.

"If properly prepared, these fugu can be guaranteed to be poison-free," Peng says. The ban on farm-raised fugu is out of date, he believes.

In Japan, according to Reuters, the laws regulating strictly licensed fugu chefs in exclusive restaurants may now be relaxed. New regulations coming into effect from October will open up the trade to even restaurants without a license.

But, the Chinese government remains cautious.

Last June, in response to nationwide calls by fugu farmers to lift the ban on fugu eating, the State Food and Drug Administration issued a notice saying that "related departments are conducting research, and before policy adjustment, food service providers are strictly banned from preparing fugus".

Peng agrees that the lifting of the ban must be carefully thought out, but he has a practical suggestion.

He thinks the government should first lift the ban in regions where strictly trained chefs should be allowed to prepare and sell farm-raised fugu. If the experiment is successful, he says, it can be allowed in the rest of the country.

"Fugu preparation techniques are part of Chinese culinary culture," he insists. "We shouldn't give up making innovations for fear of trouble. What we have to do is to safely offer the delicacy to our consumers. In the long run, it'll be a huge contribution to China's culinary scene."

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