Seafood processors were warned today about grouper, amberjack, and related predatory reef species captured in the northern Gulf of Mexico due to recent outbreaks of ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) that have been traced to fish from an area in the United States where ciguatera was previously extremely rare.

The warning was issued by the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in both letters to seafood processors and media releases to the public.   The FDA statement in part said:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued a letter to seafood processors, advising them of recent illnesses linked to consuming fish carrying the ciguatera toxin, which has led to cases of ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) in consumers. The toxic fish were harvested in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is located in federal waters south of the Texas-Louisiana coastline.

FDA had considered CFP from fish in this geographical area extremely rare until recently, when several outbreaks were confirmed in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, Mo. The illnesses were linked to fish caught near the marine sanctuary. FDA now considers CFP to be a food safety hazard that is reasonably likely to occur in grouper, snapper, and hogfish captured within 10 miles of the marine sanctuary and amberjack, barracuda and other wide-ranging species captured within 50 miles of the sanctuary.

For more information from FDA, including the symptoms of CFP, go here.