Elderly Couple Fried Up Some Fish for Lunch. Both Died

Daughter is now demanding stricter laws in Malaysia around toxic puffer fish
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2023 1:50 PM CDT
Updated Apr 15, 2023 8:10 AM CDT
Elderly Couple Fried Up Some Fish for Lunch. Both Died
Stock photo of a puffer fish.   (Getty Images/Nicoproductions)

A woman has sent up a red flag and is now lobbying for stronger laws in Malaysia around the sale of a toxic fish after her elderly parents ate some of it for lunch and died. Authorities in the state of Johor say that Lim Siew Guan and her husband, Ng Chuan Sing, both in their 80s, had purchased at least two puffer fish from a vendor on March 25, reports CNN. Lim is said to have fried the fish up that very same day for a meal, and he and his wife consumed it. Just minutes afterward, Lim began to have "breathing difficulties and shivers," authorities say. Her husband soon started showing similar signs of distress, and one of the couple's sons, who lives locally, rushed them to a hospital, where they ended up in the ICU, their daughter, Ng Ai Lee, tells the Star.

Lim died that night. Ng says she and another brother weren't able to get to their mother before she passed away, despite rushing to the hospital as soon as they heard the news, per Insider. Their father, meanwhile, held on for eight days in a coma, before finally succumbing to his own injuries on Saturday, she says. Now, Ng is demanding stricter laws in Malaysia regarding the poisonous creature, which she says her father hadn't heard of when he picked it up from the vendor. "My parents have been buying fish from the same fishmonger for many years, so my father did not think twice about it," she recently told the Star. "He would not have knowingly bought something so deadly to eat and put their lives in danger."

CNN notes that the puffer fish, called "fugu" in Japanese, has become an in-demand delicacy at high-end restaurants not only in Japan, but also in other nations such as South Korea and Singapore. This despite the fact that, unless the fish is extremely carefully prepared by chefs who train for years, its potent poison, called tetrodotoxin, can cause tingling around the mouth and dizziness in less-extreme cases, and convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and death in the worst. In Malaysia, it's illegal to sell puffer fish meat; offenders could see a fine of up to $2,300 and a maximum prison sentence of two years. "Those responsible for their deaths should be held accountable under the law, and I hope the authorities will speed up investigations," Ng said Sunday. (More puffer fish stories.)

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