A TOUGH warning about a fish which can make people ill came today in West Yorkshire.
Trading standards officers have told fish sellers, caterers and the public to be aware of potentially serious consequences of eating a type of fish - escolar - which is sometimes being mis-described as sea bass steaks.
The Food Standards Agency has published a Food Hazard Warning, following reports that the tropical, deep sea fish, has been sold throughout the UK to fish wholesalers and caterers as sea bass steaks.
The escolar is a completely different fish to sea bass. It has an unusually high oil content, which can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea, particularly in the elderly and people with an existing bowel condition.
Escolar can grow to two metres long, whereas sea bass are much smaller and not normally cut into steaks.
Sea bass is usually sold complete or as fillets and is a more expensive fish than escolar.
Escolar can be sold legally, but must be described as such under labelling regulations.
Martin Wood, chief officer for West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: "Importers of escolar have been approached by officials and warned about the mis-description.
"But frozen packs of the misdescribed fish could still be in the hands of fish sellers and restaurants, who have bought it in good faith.
"Trading standards officers will be visiting local fish importers and wholesalers and looking out for the mis-described fish in markets and restaurants."
Clr Graham Clarke, chairman of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: "Some people have become ill after eating escolar. The fish is not banned, but we need to ensure it is correctly described and to let the public know it can cause health problems."
If anyone has any concerns they should phone the Consumer Helpline on 0113 3848848.