Japanese Fugu Chefs Say Newly Relaxed Laws Totally Blow

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Blowfish! Photo: Adam Witwer via Flickr

Fugu is the ne plus ultra of dangerous foods, a fish so poisonous that it can only be prepared by licensed chefs. But Tokyo is nervously awaiting new laws to take effect this fall that would basically allow any Tom, Dick, or Hiro to cut and serve the dangerous delicacy. Reuters reports that this more relaxed attitude regarding a fish that is literally packed to the gills with deadly tetrodotoxin is pissing off the pros who spent years perfecting their knife skills to obtain the license, which of course earns beaucoup yen from clients set on enjoying an elegant meal without worrying about paralyzing spasms of death before dessert is served. But with something this dangerous, why are authorities taking a new approach in the first place?

The reasoning is, everybody else is already doing it. The new laws are intended to bring the country's capital up to date with the rest of Japan, where regulations governing fugu have mostly slackened, even leading one laissez-faire food control official to say, "Outside of Tokyo, the regulations for blowfish are even more relaxed and yet there are hardly any poison-related accidents." Hardly any! That's almost as good as none!

Still, despite that encouraging endorsement, we have a feeling the looser laws regarding a fish that normally takes two years of apprenticing to approach will probably lead to some increase in tragedy, which would be a blowfish bummer. It also remains to be seen whether the fish will still hold such a sacred place in the palates of thrill-seekers once it becomes as easily obtainable as a Kirin from a Shibuya vending machine.

But hey, anyone put off by the new regulations can always just order a pizza.

Tokyo chefs swell with anger over new blowfish laws [Reuters]