Problems of toxicants in marine food products. 1. Marine biotoxins

Bull World Health Organ. 1970;42(1):69-88.


The expansion of marine fisheries into tropical waters, which is now occurring, will increase the risks of widespread poisonings because of the abundance of biotoxins in warm-water organisms. However, toxic marine organisms are not only a health hazard but also a possible source of new pharmaceutical products.A classification of marine intoxicants is given in this paper with special reference to the oral biotoxins which will be of primary concern in the expansion of warm-water fisheries. The biotoxins are both invertebrate (e.g., molluscs, arthropods) and vertebrate (mostly fishes) in origin. Biotoxications of vertebrate origin may be caused by the muscles, the gonads or the blood of certain fishes or by special poison glands not equipped with traumagenic devices. (Venomous fishes, having poison glands and traumagenic spines, etc., are of no direct concern as oral intoxicants.)The ichthyosarcotoxic fishes, in which the flesh is poisonous, appear to constitute the most significant health hazard. A list of fishes reported as causing ciguatera poisoning (one of the most serious and widespread forms of ichthyosarcotoxism) is included in this paper.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caniformia
  • Crustacea
  • Fish Products*
  • Fisheries
  • Fishes, Poisonous*
  • Food Supply
  • Foodborne Diseases / chemically induced
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mollusca
  • Shellfish
  • Toxins, Biological*
  • Tropical Climate
  • Tropical Medicine
  • Turtles


  • Toxins, Biological