Fish eaters beware of the butterfish: your tummy may thank you

© Splatp | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Splatp | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Though science continues to back the wisdom that fish is brain food, there are times when you need to use your smarts to make it a healthy choice.  While most varieties offer a range of disease-fighting perks, there are a few you don’t want to get your hooks into.

The problem is that sometimes  you may have no idea what you’re eating and that it could make you feel quite ill.

Escolar is a perfect example. Have you ever seen it on a restaurant menu?

Likely not.

But it does lurk on many eateries list of options, particularly Japanese ones. You’ll often see it listed as butterfish or white tuna – butterfish due to its high fat content and smooth texture and white tuna due to its colour.  It is not, though, related in any way to white albacore tuna.

This white firm fleshed fish is often described as being quite delicious but it can leave you with less than pleasing consequences not long after you eat it.

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and/ or  headache –  all of which can be pretty dramatic –  can occur within a few hours of eating the fish and can last up to 24 to 48 hours. For healthy people, it’s simply an inconvenience but for those with underlying health problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, it can be more serious.

How sick you may get depends on individual tolerances. And it’s all due to an indigestible oily substance called wax esters.  This oily substance, named gempylotoxin after the family of fish, Gempylidae, escolar belongs to, is indigestible as it passes through  the digestive tract.  The consequences of eating the fish have nothing to do with freshness. It’s simply the fish itself.

At one point, back in the early 1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug  Administration recommended against its import  but then the regulations were relaxed leaving it up to fish eaters to fend for themselves. Other countries such as Japan and Italy have also banned its sale.

Here in Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) “works to ensure that escolar is not misidentified or mislabelled when it’s sold at the retail level.”

Yeah sure.

That’s why it’s on the menu as butterfish and white tuna.  If you ask your server to check what these fish are, you may get the right information. It simply depends on who is in the kitchen that day.

So what does Health Canada say about allowing escolar to be sold?

On their website, it states, “Symptoms, in those who experience them, can include one or more of the following: the rectal passage of an oily yellow or orange substance (called keriorrhoea), diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and headache. Kerriorrhoea is not associated with a loss of bodily fluids and is not considered life threatening.”

As it does not cause dehydration and may not result in death,  Health Canada   allows it to be sold.

But all the above symptoms are OK? Give me a break.

I saw the effects a few years ago when my husband returned from a dinner meeting where he had a “fabulous tasting white tuna”. He then spent the entire night dealing with its laxative effects. To confirm my suspicions that he had eaten escolar, I called the restaurant to ask about the fish. They had never heard of escolar – so much for it not being misidentified- but they were happy to give me the name of their fish supplier. After asking what the other names of  the fish might be and hearing butterfish or escolar, my hunch was confirmed.

While portions are likely much smaller at sushi restaurants, (which may save you from any symptoms),  if you are a fan of the newer “all you can eat sushi” places, beware. Your tummy make thank you.


Have you unknowingly suffered from escolar’s effects? Have you ever seen escolar listed on a menu? Do you think there should be warnings posted on menus? Please share in the comment section below.

Another post you might like:

© Splatp | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Who’s minding the store? Health Canada’s regulations at risk

According to Health Canada, … read more

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Categories: Food Safety

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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190 Comments on “Fish eaters beware of the butterfish: your tummy may thank you”

  1. Craig
    May 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Yeah this was the second time so I had to do some internet searching – orange oily discharge is the most family friendly way I can explain this. Very unlpleasant and a shame because it’s a tasty fish.

    • May 31, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      I agree that it’s a shame, Craig – a shame that something that causes these problems is allowed in the food supply without warning labels. Many people simply have no idea what’s in store for them when they choose this fish!

      • May 24, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

        I had the “Butterfish” in Hawaii and it was the most memorable meal of the trip. No, not because I had any “symptoms” but because I have never enjoyed any fish more. I was given fair warning by the waiter, who made it clear that the risk / reward calculation was weighted in favor of taking a chance. Tell everyone so they can make an educated choice but if you ever get the chance and have a reasonably healthy digestive system, try it, you’ll like it.

      • May 25, 2015 at 12:54 am #

        Thanks for your comments, Alan. I’m glad to hear you had a positive experience! Are you sure it wasn’t real butterfish? Did the waiter say it was escolar? I have heard that a small number of people may not react but the common reaction is one severe enough that I do know escolar victims would never chance again. The chances of getting the symptoms, though, have nothing to do with how healthy your digestive system is. Now let me ask you this: what if you had experienced the usual escolar aftermath? Would it have impacted your travels? I have had foodborne illness while traveling and I missed enjoying some very delicious offerings! Italy and Japan haven’t banned it for no reason.

      • Betsy Rambo
        February 14, 2018 at 11:36 am #

        This is the best fish I have ever eaten, and I had NO side effects whatsoever. But my daughter, while loving it, did have some side effects!

      • February 14, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

        You may be one of the lucky ones to not have any side effects, Betsy, and while it may be good tasting, for many people, it’s simply not worth the risk of how dreadful they feel afterwards. If this fish is served, at least, there should be warnings so individuals can make choices.

      • James McCann
        September 29, 2018 at 11:03 pm #

        I had a terrible experience the morning after eating butterfish , walking through the lounge room i let a little bit of gas escape and soiled my underwear and ruined my white Karate pants with an orange discharge , it was a shock and quite disgusting , it should be banned in Australia.

      • September 30, 2018 at 7:49 am #

        Yes! It should be banned everywhere – or at least accompanied by very noticeable warning signs!

      • nancylebovitz
        April 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm #

        There’s a dish in Hawaii which is called butterfish, but it’s made with “black cod” which is actually sablefish.

      • April 2, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

        Thanks for your feedback, Nancy! Yes, part of the problem- a big part- is that so many names are used for different fish. There is also an actual fish called butterfish which is supposed to be delicious and does not cause any gastrointestinal issues. It would be great if fish were labelled properly and then those who were about to eat escolar could look it up and then steer clear. As consumers, I think we need to voice our complaints about what fish is called.

    • Sara
      June 15, 2014 at 1:29 am #

      Haha I think we shared an experience. Same thing happened to me a few years back. God, it was so disgusting.

    • Chris
      December 23, 2015 at 6:38 am #

      Oh God, it was delicious. Too bad neither myself or my housemate knew the risks involved.

  2. June 3, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    i am having this orange oily discharge now and it is extremely unpleasant however, it didnt give me any diaharrea thou! OH MY TUMMY ):

    • June 3, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      Sorry to hear of your troubles, Freda. You’re not alone in your reaction. But there should be a requirement for a warning label.

  3. Thomas
    September 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    This is the most terrible fish and it should be banned. It may not be lethal but at least it shouldn’t be sold without a mandatory warning. I’ve soiled 6 pairs of underwear and two pairs of trousers in just a fee hours and now can’t leave the house. On top of that I suffered nausea, terrible stomach cramps and diahreah with similar effects to those experienced with food poisoning.

  4. September 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Thomas, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Escolar should not be sold or if it is available for sale, a warning should be prominently displayed. But not only is it it sold without a warning, it is almost always mislabelled – something that is not legal. It is most often sold as butterfish and sometimes, as white tuna: Yet here in Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will only pursue action, if a consumer complains.

    It is time for action: consumers need to be protected from the effects of escolar or at least know what they choose to eat.

  5. anastasia
    November 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    I do not know if there is any way to sue the restaurant or how I can pursue this further. I made sure i called everyone I possibly could to rectify what is happening to me. Is there any quick cure for this horrible “food poisoning” or this is something I need to wait out? Isn’t there anything the Canadian food inspection can do regarding white tuna sashimi sold in Toronto restaurants? due to the sickness its causing people?! When i called the YellowTail Japanese cuisine on 16th and woodbine ave they had told me that i need to see a doctor and that they had no complaints with this “white tuna” they serve to customers. its crazy

    • November 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      Thank you for posting about this issue, Anastasia. I’m sorry to hear of your situation. It is truly incredible that this type of seafood fraud can continue to happen. I cannot advise you about whether you should pursue a lawsuit but I can say that serving escolar using another name and not informing you is fraudulent. Restaurant and seafood wholesalers need to be accountable.

      What I can tell you is that you should file a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) (you can use the link in my article). You might ask the restaurant if they have another name for this “white tuna” and the name and contact information of their wholesaler. I do blame the CFIA for doing nothing about this and had thought at one time or another, that someone should launch a class action lawsuit!

      As for the treatment, you may have to wait it out but you might want to consult your doctor to see if there are any medications you might try if you are having severe abdominal cramps.

  6. ellie
    March 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    My boyfriend and I had butterfish sushi while in Spain a few weeks ago, but we both felt fine afterwards. We even liked it so much that we went back a second time, again with no ill effects. I wonder if there is something about the way it’s prepared that makes it safe or unsafe? Or perhaps something about production in North America versus in Europe?

    • March 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

      Ellie, that’s very interesting. I have to wonder, though, if what they call butterfish in Spain is a different fish than what is called butterfish here in North America. It may not be escolar in Spain. In fact, when I looked up butterfish in Spain, I found this as what butterfish is in Spain: “an eel-like blennioid food fish, Pholis gunnellus, occurring in North Atlantic coastal regions: family Pholidae (gunnels). It has a slippery scaleless golden brown skin with a row of black spots along the base of the long dorsal fin.” This is not escolar.

      The effects of escolar also depend on the amount you consume. If it’s only a small amount, you might escape with no effects. But judging by the number of people who come to my website on a daily basis looking for information on butterfish’s effects, I suspect you had something else if you felt fine.

      • Andrew
        April 13, 2014 at 9:26 am #

        I’ve been eating butterfish for years. It’s been my favorite sushi and have eaten it at lots of restaurants around Toronto and other parts of Ontario; sometimes in larger quantity… Never had any problems.

        I have noticed, though, that it’s not always the same fish depending on where I go. The one I really like is pure white, has a very delicate texture and almost melts in your mouth with a buttery quality. The other stuff is white still, but pink tinged around the edges and has a slightly sour flavour.

        I always get the pure white stuff in the more expensive places I go, and it’s usually the top priced fish on the menu, but sometimes the pinkish one if the place is not as nice.

        Is this be the difference between real Japanese butterfish and escolar?

        I’ve never had any problems with either, but clearly there is more than one fish out there purporting to be butterfish.

      • April 15, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

        Thanks for your comments, Andrew. Judging by other comments I’ve received and all the hits I get on this post, I have to say that I think that you have been very lucky that you’ve never had any problems. But you point out a real problem that we are seeing with fish labelling on menus: the regulations of labelling fish according to their real names are not being enforced. Clearly there are a number of different fish being sold as butterfish. It may be that when you have come across escolar, you may have only had a small portion and that’s why you haven’t been ill. Considering that I get thousands of views every month on this post, I would venture to say that many people are indeed eating escolar and are suffering its consequences.

        As for your question about real Japanese butterfish, I don’t know if the real thing is ever sold here in Toronto. But I do know that escolar is never sold in Japan – as it is banned there.

        I hope you keep up your good luck!

    • Waclaw
      October 20, 2014 at 7:43 am #

      not at all. Its the fish itself with a lot of wax which is not digestible causing all the problems.. But some of us tolerate it and nothing happens. Othes… spend the following night in the toilet 🙂

  7. Kale
    May 1, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    I had one unfortunate encounter with escolar being sold as ono. The worst part was I was on a date. We had ordered a bunch of the ono sashimi to share. I had thought the texture was different than when I’d had it before, it was much more tender and rich in flavor. I didn’t mind though, this was the best tasting ono I’d had in years! The effects didn’t hit until we were about halfway back to my place. My stomach was cramping up and all I could think was, “Oh God, I know sushi makes me poop, but please don’t give me diarrhea. Not right now. Please.” As soon as we got in, I had to make a mad dash to the bathroom because I thought I had shit my pants. Sure enough, there it was, the orange oily substance. I couldn’t mask the flatulating noises, and I was mortified to come out of the bathroom when I was finally empty. When I came out, she ran straight past me, into the bathroom and the ‘plllbbbtttt’ sounds were back. Once it passed and we both talked about it, we decided to look up our symptoms and low and behold found our answer: escolar. I am lucky to say that we had no accompanying headaches or vomiting, and that the most embarrassing date I’ve ever been on worked out in my favor, as we’ve been together ever since, but we always make sure we know exactly what kind of fish we’re getting now.

  8. Christine Holder
    May 8, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    We recently had butter fish served to us in Holland. Our Dutch friend who We were staying with called it Boater fish and had no option for our evening meal and it was a tasty fried fish. However the following morning my husband and I both had terrible wind and the awful orange discharge from our bowels. Our underwear and nightwear were stained with it. We thought at the time it was just us trying different food to our normal diet in the UK. 48 hours later I was nauseous and vomited and felt awful and had to go to bed to sleep it off for several hours.

    • May 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear this Christine- both because of what you and your husband experienced but also because I thought this type of seafood fraud was unique to North America. I think that the whole situation requires more awareness – more people speaking up and not tolerating this. It’s time to get rid of escolar from our food supply – or at least warning labels to tell people of the possible consequences.

  9. Tom James
    May 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Butterfish as sold throughout the world (including North America) isn’t Escolar, but rather Ibodai, so I reject the premise of this blog, though I do recognise that you’re qualm is with Escolar itself, because Butterfish is in fact harmless. Ibodai (aka Butterfish) is native to the West Pacific, has a white creamy milky flesh that melts in the mouth and is delicious…

    Butterfish isn’t the problem here, but Escolar incorrectly sold as Butterfish – Escolar is banned in Japan and its mislabelling in certain restaurants in Canada, I would hazard a guess, is less the fault of the regulatory body and more to do with the poor-quality of the suppliers and restaurants who sell it negligently. I’ve eaten Ibodai many times without issue. I’ve never eaten Escolar.

    But this poses a whole load of new questions, including why would you you want to eat raw fish at a cheap restaurant? Or eat at any restaurant that fails in the most fundamental task of being able to correctly source and identify the produce it goes on to sell?

    By all means take umbrage with Escolar, White Tuna or even Walu – but don’t blame the humble Butterfish, the innocent victim, fingered for a crime he didn’t commit.

    • May 14, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

      Thank you for your comments, Tom. I do not have a problem with the REAL butterfish but the problem here is all the restaurants, both fine dining and cheap establishments, that are selling escolar and calling it “butterfish”. It’s also not just raw fish. My husband, as I mentioned in the article, ate escolar which was cooked at a less than cheap restaurant and was sick all night. The restaurant did not know that it was escolar they were serving. The fish wholesaler confirmed that it was escolar. If the regulatory body – the CFIA – fined these restaurants for deceptive labelling, you can be sure that the problem would be solved quite quickly. The fish wholesalers would have to deal with the anger of their customers and the problem would likely be solved. Banning the sale, as both Italy and Japan have done, would be best.

  10. May 23, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Well we know why I’m here!!! I just purchased Butter Fish last Tuesday a whole kilo of it, at our local markets. I have done this before and never had a problem. But this time it was different (not the fish, the fish was the same). Wednesday I made Seafood Chowder out of the butter fish, I also added prawns, mussels and calamari. Thursday morning no problems. Thursday evening I made Butter Fish with Jalapenos, Lemongrass and fried it in butter. Well Friday morning was interesting, there was this horrible yellow, oily substance in the toilet and still today Saturday still happening. No Diarrhea, stomach cramping or vomiting, thank god. But my husband and I were still concerned about what we were leaving in the toilet and that maybe I had poisoned us… Thank you for you site, I’m not too worried now. This was fresh fish caught locally of the Sth East Coast of Australia. I have always loved Butter Fish, maybe moderation will be better next time.

    • May 24, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      Patty, I’m sorry to hear about this! I would suggest you contact the market where you purchased the fish. Ask them if they have any other names for that particular fish and if escolar is among them, I would point them to this article. Many places that sell fish know nothing of escolar’s horrible effects.

  11. jay jonson
    June 1, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    I myself experienced the oily film substance after going to the toilet, after eating blue marlin fish which is a white fish and definitely is oily. I havent experienced this before until now, I did some research on this and yes ouly fish causes it. But not to worry it will go away a day or two

    • June 3, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Thanks for your comments, Jay. The symptoms experienced after eating escolar, though, are usually quite dramatic and often involves abdominal cramps as well.

  12. don
    June 9, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    i use it as bait and chum for bigger fish I never even thought of eating but today at a bodega down the block I saw a restaurant owner buy a huge bag I inquired about it for bait and just searched it to be sure its the species I thought it was. Ill have to warn the store Thanks.

  13. tom
    July 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I’ve just come back from a restaurant in London, UK, and had butterfish. I actually saw your website before I ordered because I’d never heard of it and was looking it up. But I thought, no, they can’t possibly serve up food that’s going to make people ill. Well, curiosity killed the cat and within minutes I started to feel a bit queasy, and within half an hour the full blown liquid diarrhoea had started. Not sure what I’ll do, but may well call the restaurant tomorrow!

    • July 27, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      Tom, I’m sorry to hear of your butterfish escapade. I have to say, though, that I am surprised at how global this phenomenon appears to be. I originally thought it was a Canadian problem but apparently, it seems to happen in many countries – except for Italy and Japan where escolar is banned. I hope that you have called the restaurant. They should be informed as to the fact that something they are selling to patrons is making them sick. It might help to get it off the menu. But we do need to spread the word about avoiding this fish!

  14. Spanky
    August 7, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    I stumbled upon this site because I was trying to remember the name of the fish that made me ill a few years ago. All I could remember is that its nickname was “butterfish”. Escolar is a NASTY fish – do not eat it. Tastes delicious. But I read some research on it after “the incident”and basically found out that the human body really cannot digest the type of fat in the escolar. Whichever website I found (no idea what it was) equated it to eating several sticks of butter in one sitting and then expecting your body to be able to handle it.
    Lets just say there was some unexpected oily discharge in the morning after I had it for dinner the day before – and I had to have some thing professionally steam cleaned.

    Stay away!!

  15. Juls
    August 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    I live in Mexico and I went the other day to a Hotel to have dinner, it was a buffett and I decided to taste the fish by recommendation from one of my collegues, at the beginning nothing was wrong but 24 hrs later I starting passing gas and to my surprise this oily disgusting liquid started to appear. At first I was scared of having been poisoned or having a hell of an infection, as I´ve never seen such a thing, then I read about it and my nerves were calmed. As of today 48 hrs after eating that damned fish, I continue to experience this disgusting situation. It seems that drinking water and eating food low on fat might improve the fat dilution.

  16. September 23, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    I live in Germany and my wife just returned from the North Sea coast with a selection of delicious smoked fishes including, I regret to say, Butterfisch. I ate a portion of maybe 200gm for dinner and it was truly delicious but, a few hours later, discovered your site for the same reasons as your other correspondents. Nasty oily diarrhea and stomach cramps – horrible!

    I have eaten this fish in very small portions in Sushi Maki rolls for years with no noticeable ill effects but as a dinner-sized portion of fish, it’s definitely to be avoided!

    Travellers to Germany – avoid Butterfisch and Buttermakrele which are the German names for this.

  17. Thelma Lobb
    October 15, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    I live in Victoria Australia, and my husband and I also had a very unpleasant experience with a fish called Butterfish. My brother-in-law runs a restaurant and mentioned that he was advised not to use it by the health inspector. That led me to investigate, and found that there were a number of episodes in restaurants that the government had documented. I contacted our Department of Health, to be told that it was not illegal to sell it, even though they were very aware of the possible consequences. I tried to have some sort of warning given at the point of sale, but neither local council or government were interested. I have noticed Butterfish being specified on a number of menus lately – unfortunately, many species can be called this, and some probably quite safe.

  18. Lynette Mayfield
    October 19, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    I went to a friend’s house recently and I had trout with vegetables etc. When I went to bed and during the night I was awoken with stomach cramps and feeling very sick. I could not sleep most of the night unfortunately. When I got up next day my stomach was still playing up. I felt tired and could hardly eat anything except drink for a few days. I brought myself some Pepto Bismol from my chemist which did ease it somewhat. I think the Trout upset my stomach perhaps a little to rich I don’t think I will change it again in future.

  19. Laura
    October 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    My first run in with Escolar was at a restaurant and it was being sold as “butterfish”. Classic symptoms and after looking it up swore never to eat this again. A few years later I bought Orange Roughy filets at Trader Joe’s and within hours of eating it – you guessed it – orange oily discharge. OBVIOUSLY not orange roughy. I reported it to Trader Joe’s via email and they returned some assurance that it could not possibly be anything other than orange roughy. I will not buy or eat white fish that I don’t know exactly what it is. Buy whole fish in store and I never eat white fish out anymore, just can’t trust it. It’s sad but shady practices by wholesalers or those selling to wholesalers ruined white fish for me.

  20. Linda
    November 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    I have just come back from Riga, Latvia where I too have eaten butterfish. The thing is I asked the waiter in a restaurant what butterfish was and he recommended it as being a lovely tasting fish with a rich buttery/creamy taste. Needless to say I ordered it and he was right….. It was lovely. That is until the middle of the night when the cramps started and then the diarrhoea . Last day of holiday ruined! Never again will I eat it and will think twice before eating something that I’ve not heard of before.

  21. General Tao
    November 18, 2014 at 6:38 pm #


    I am at 168 Sushi at Steeles and Dufferin right now, and they have “white tuna sashimi” on the menu. In the name of science, I have ordered 10 pieces of it. I will report back with my findings. 🙂

    • General Tao
      November 19, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

      24 hours have passed with absolutely no ill effect. Either I am not susceptible, or there were other mitigating factors (lots of other food consumed? effect of green tea on esters?), or 168 Sushi really does serve white tuna as advertised. So delicious!

      • November 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

        I’m glad to hear you had no ill effects and that you enjoyed your dinner! I would think that, considering the amount you were going to eat, that it may actually be white tuna.

  22. Heather
    December 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    I was at a company event over the weekend, and they had butterfish as part of the dinner buffet. They also had a large sushi appetizer area, and I noticed that one type of sushi really seemed to have the fish “hidden” with a lot of toppings. I am suspecting this was butterfish as well.

    Needless to say, that was Saturday, it’s now Monday afternoon, and I am still very very ill. I started vomiting that night, and again the whole next day. I thought it was alcohol, but my IBS symptoms in my lower intestine immediately alerted me that it was food. The pain and cramping was so severe I couldn’t drive myself home without stopping.

    I had one movement that was solid oil, and the rest of the time has been a combination of oil and the cleansing effect of this wonderful fish versus everything I ever ate, ever.

    The scary part is this was a very high end fancy restaurant. The dinner was freshly carved filet mignon, lobster tail, and this death inducing stupid fish. Who does that?!?!

    • December 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      Heather, while it certainly feels like it’s death inducing, it’s not. But it can be horrendous, which seems as though it would be enough of a reason to ban the sale of this fish as Italy and Japan have done. In Canada, because it doesn’t cause death, the government allows it to be sold. As I am insure where you are from (as comments on horrible experiences have come from around the world), I would suggest you contact the restaurant and a few government agencies – both local and federal – and let them know of your experiences and that it is unacceptable to you to allow this fish to be sold.

      I hope you feel better very, very soon!

  23. Evelyn
    December 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    My husband and I recently bought some butterfish at a loca fresh fish market in Santa Rosa, CA, USA. This market has an excellent reputation and we have bought other fish there with no problems.

    The fish was labeled as “escolar” and “butterfish”, so the market weren’t trying to hide what it was. The staff also told us it was used in sushi.

    It was over US$15/pound. We bought a pound anyway, as it looked so good.

    We ate the whole pound between us at dinner. It tasted great!

    About 15-20 minutes later, I felt sick to my stomach. I had eaten other things that day that I don’t usually eat, so I was thinking it was just the combination of foods and eating too much.

    I thought I would wait it out as I blamed this on indigestion. A half hour later, with no need for any trips to the bathroom or any other symptoms, this nauseated feeling went away. The next morning, all seemed normal with my digestive system. My husband told me, though, that he had some digestive problems.

    A day later, though (yesterday), I noticed the yellow/orange substance and had diarrhea. I was worried that the substance was bile and therefore there was a problem with my liver or my gallbladder. It also stained my underwear, so I was concerned this was a symptom of a “leakage” problem. Today, two days later, I still have this symptom, though not as severe.

    I found this article online while looking up information on butterfish so forwarded the link to my husband. He said, yes, he had the same symptoms I did.

    Oh well, we now know, we will not buy this again.

    • December 9, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Evelyn, I’m so sorry to hear of your experience-a whole pound between the two of you!! It is really astounding that escolar can be sold without warning labels. Maybe it’s time for escolar victims to launch lawsuits against both the sellers and the governments which allow it to be sold. I would suggest you contact the seller and various government agencies – local, state and federal- and tell them what happened. Be well!

  24. Gabriel
    January 6, 2015 at 12:30 am #

    Escolar is not butterfish; US and Canada constently make that kind of labelling mistake. There is in fact over 17 types of butterfish around the globe, yet escolar doesn’t belong to any of these.

    • January 7, 2015 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Gabriel. I absolutely agree with you. Real butterfish is not escolar. The problem is, though, that escolar is being sold as butterfish in restaurants everywhere. According to comments on this page, it’s not a phenomenon that is happening solely in Canada and the U.S. It is time that if escolar is on a menu, it should be listed as such and should carry a warning – either a warning or a ban on the fish altogether!

  25. Jacques
    January 12, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

    I read this posting on Escolar tonight as i was sitting in a local “facy” seafood restaurant whileI was looking through the menu. Butterfish ofcourse was on the menu and I thought lets try it. What can really happen. Very tasty fish but now im up all night with a very upset stomach. Worst mistake ever. Will certainly not eat it ever again.

    • January 12, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience, Jacques! Can I ask where you are located? the reason I ask is that I would suggest you complain to the appropriate authorities. If you are in Canada, I would suggest you contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Contacting these agencies seems to be the only way to get this deceptively labelled fish – escolar – off menus.

  26. Selene
    January 16, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    It’s really misleading to title this article as though it were about Butterfish.
    “Butterfish” is a term that refers to several different types of fish that are NOT Escolar. Labeling escolar on a menu as Butterfish is as inaccurate as labeling it “white tuna”. Would you have titled this article “Beware of the tuna”? No, I didn’t think so.
    Butterfish is delicious and does not have the same wax content of Escolar.
    That said, it’s also incredibly easy to avoid escolar poisoning. All you have to do is limit your portions to six ounces or less, which is incredibly easy in a sushi context, since the portions are so small, and the fish itself is so rich (and delicious).
    Instead of scaring your readers and kicking up dust, why not tell the truth? Escolar, sometimes mislabeled as “Butterfish”, can cause discomfort if ingested in quantities over 6 oz, so keep your portions small and focus on appreciating the rich and buttery flavor. Butterfish, a totally different animal, is delicious and not poisonous and makes an amazing filet

    • April 25, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Selene. I think we are both in agreement that butterfish should be labelled as butterfish and escolar as escolar. If this were the case, I would never have had to warn people about the so called “butterfish” but since the government agencies who should be taking care of this are not, I think that consumers need to be warned.

      And yes, if eaten in small quantities, there is no problem. But this is not something people are aware of so when they enjoy the fish, they may eat larger amounts. Escolar should simply be banned or at the very least, be properly labelled with a warning beside it to consume only small amounts. That would be fair to those who don’t know about escolar’s ravages!

  27. February 8, 2015 at 4:30 am #

    There are many causes of abdominal pain and it is very important that your doctor determines what is the main cause. It can be caused by Endometriosis,Indigestion and other conditions. usually, pain killers can help manage the pain

  28. Erin
    April 13, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    Are there any other fish that may be labeled as butterfish? I go to a place and sometimes I eat a ton of it without so much as a stomach cramp. I didn’t know it was mildly toxic and I don’t think what I’m eating is the same as what your writing about o.o
    Not only should some fish be banned, food should have to have consecutive naming throughout restaurants.

    • April 25, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

      Erin, There are varieties of fish labelled as butterfish which are not escolar. Escolar is the fish that causes all these horrible gastrointestinal problems and it is its being mislabelled with other names that is misleading. Most commonly it’s labelled as butterfish but also as white tuna. To add to the confusion, there is also a real white tuna (most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest in places such as British Columbia and Washington state. And you’re right, some fish such as escolar should be banned but the government should at least be ensuring proper labelling. In Canada, they are doing nothing about this unless an escolar victim files a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Inspection Agency (CFIA). Besides the fact that most who experience these horrible effects don’t know what has happened, they also don’t know to complain to this agency.

      It is simply a neglect of CFIA’s duties.

  29. Nancy Wall
    May 17, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    Guess I won’t be getting the butterfish tonight for dinner. Thanks for the very graphic information.

    • May 17, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      Sorry to have provided such graphic information but unfortunately, these are the consequences of escolar consumption. This fish should not be sold and certainly if it is, it should be properly identified and come with a warning. Consumers deserve that – don’t you think?

  30. Bill
    July 3, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Looks like I am the latest victim of “butterfish”….it was a “special” last night at a restaurant that my wife and I eat at 1 to 2 times a week. I like to try new things so I ordered it. Kind of bland but the way it was prepared made it delicious. (capers, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes in a lemon/white wine sauce over linguine)..unfortunately, within 2 hours of getting home my stomach tightened up and got very hard; Very uncomfortable. The pain went away a few hours later. Fortunately, no other horrific side effects. Suffice it to say, that was my last experience with “butterfish”.

    • July 3, 2015 at 10:07 am #

      Considering all the possible side effects, I would agree with you, Bill, that you got away lucky!

      • Bill
        July 4, 2015 at 6:12 am #

        Unfortunately, I spoke (wrote) too soon!!!
        Last night–24 hours after eating the fish–I had diarrhea with the orange oily color/substance…it was bad…bathroom 3 times and uneasy stomach.

  31. July 6, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    Sorry to hear this, Bill! Can I ask where you live? If you are in Canada, you should file a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. They won’t act on it unless they get complaints!

  32. J
    July 26, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    I’m Italian and I’ve actually eaten it yesterday in a Japanese Restaurant… so I don’t think it’s banned at all. We ate it on sushi and had no problem, but it was a small portion. Thanks for the useful informations! We weren’t aware of the effects that may be caused.

    • July 26, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Sara. Was it butterfish that you are or escolar? I would suspect that it might have actually been butterfish as I have understood that escolar is banned in Italy. If I’m wrong and it was escolar, please let me know. Thanks!

  33. Sheema
    October 6, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    OMG Rosie thank you so much for writing this blogpost!!! I am the latest victim of escolar mislabeled as butterfish. And I live in Malaysia! Yesterday I had lunch with a friend at an upscale country club where she is a member. Thinking I was being healthy, I decided to order the grilled fish. As I’m always concerned about the sustainability of the seafood I eat, I double-checked the type of fish with the waiter, as it was listed on the menu as being “butter fish'” which I’d never heard of. He confirmed what the menu said it was, and since it didn’t seem to be an endangered species, I went ahead with it. For a start, it didn’t even taste good! I think it might have been overcooked: chewy and somewhat dry, with no sauce to cut through the bland but salty taste. Very soon after finishing my meal I started to feel nauseous (the cappuccino and butter cookie I had immediately afterwards didn’t help!), and I really had to fight down the urge to vomit. For the rest of the day my stomach continued to feel somewhat queasy, and I suspected that I might have some kind of mild food poisoning. I skipped dinner as I had absolutely no appetite and no hunger pangs, and even chugged down a can of Coke since friends advised me that it would help mitigate the symptoms of food poisoning. It did help, and the queasiness and nausea went away, so I went to bed. This morning, when I went to do my usual morning bathroom business, I didn’t have any diarrhoea – but I DID notice the yellowish-orange oily discharge! And since then the slight queasiness has returned to my stomach! It freaked me out enough that I decided to google ‘butter fish’, which led me immediately to your blogpost. I am SO GLAD you wrote this and put this information out there!

    • October 7, 2015 at 5:09 am #

      It now seems, Sheema, that the butterfish trend has become a worldwide one. We need to spread the word so that people can avoid it rather than reading about the cause of their symptoms afterwards! Governments should be banning escolar as they do in Japan and Italy!

  34. ramin
    November 3, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    Hi Rosie

    Thank you for your post, I have albacore tuna sandwich at habit restaurant in los Angeles for 2 days and the next day I had diarrhea and stomach issues for the next 2 days.
    After a month i still have stomach issues!

    is there anything good medicine or supplement for stomach to go back to usual habit.

    Thank you

    • November 14, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Ramin. I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties! It sounds as thought it was a different type of foodborne illness, though as albacore tuna differs from escolar. While I can’t offer any dietary advice online, I might suggest you consult a dietitian and look into various solutions such as probiotics or reducing your lactose intake. I hope you feel better soon!

  35. Athena
    November 29, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Butterfish in North America is cod or black cod, not escolar.

    • November 30, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      Athena, I strongly disagree agree with you. I’ve spoken to many, many restaurateurs who serve “butterfish” and when asked what the alternate name is, escolar is what I’m told. If you put this together with the symptoms people experience (which would not happen after eating cod or black cod), escolar is being used in the majority of establishments.

  36. Brandon
    December 10, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    I also have experienced the oily discharge after eating butterfish in Kauai during my wedding/ honeymoon. Another couple from the wedding party had purchased some at the supermarket in Princeville and bbq’d it in some tin foil with a splash of italian dressing. I tried some of it and thought it was amazing. I purchased a few fillets from the same market and prepared them the same way the next evening. I ended up ruining several pairs of underwear and a pair of shorts. It left a fishy smell that would not wash out after multiple washings, and I eventually had to throw everthing away. I had no other symptoms and the other couple did not experience any problems from eating it. There was another article I found that describes butterfish as being a preperation method rather than a species or type of fish, but is usually made with black cod or something. I think some of the people posting positive responses on here may have had something different, or just have strong digestive systems. I also think portion size plays a big role in the severety of the, um…discharge. I had very little of it that first night, but the next night I got two good fillets and ended up eating both since my wife doesn’t like fish very much. It really was the most delicious fish I’ve ever had, and I was very disappointed to learn that it causes those kinds of problems. Here’s that other link.

    • January 25, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

      Brandon, I’m sorry to hear of your problems during your celebrations! The ravages of escolar are not wonderful at any time but during celebratory times, it’s even worse. I do agree with you regarding portion size. Small amounts may not cause symptoms. As for the link you sent to me, the couple describes fish they had eaten back in 2001. At that time, black cod may have other names but more recently, butterfish is a name that’s often used for escolar. But it’s time for those who sell this fish to call it what it is: escolar = so that people may know what caused their symptoms or even better yet, find out before eating it!

  37. Pam scott
    February 21, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    I recently had butterfish at a Japanese restaurant and experienced many of the described symptoms .Three of us shared an entree size broiled portion. Although I had had butterfish before( ironicallyat a restaurant called butterfish ) this was the first time I became ill. I plan on contacting the restaurant. I think the fish should not be allowed to be served or sold, even with warnings. Very unfortunate because it is one of the most delicious fish around.

    • February 25, 2016 at 11:38 am #

      I’m sorry to hear this, Pam! This type of problem with fish labelled as butterfish is becoming more and more common. I agree – if it’s escolar that is being sold, it should be banned from sale. I also agree that you should let the restaurant know what happened to you. Your last experience may have been fine as you might have possibly eaten a different fish or the amount you consumed may have been less. In any case, fish should be sold using its proper name so consumers know what they’re eating!

  38. Johnny_Volt
    February 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    I had butterfish for the first time recently and it was amazing. I didn’t know about the concerns, but the only symptom I experienced were excessive bliss. Highly recommend it.


    • February 29, 2016 at 10:46 am #

      It’s wonderful to hear, Johnny, that yo enjoyed your butterfish so much! I have to say, though, that I doubt if it was escolar. If it was, I would think that your portion was likely very small. It’s really unfortunate that so many restaurants are calling different fish “butterfish”!

  39. Carina
    March 1, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    I ate butterfish at a restaurant in Montana and the meal was called “Hawaii meets Montana”. It was done very rare, just seared on the outside. It was good, not the best fish I’ve ever tasted but about 36 hours later had a small fart but it left a large orange stain on my panties followed by orange oil dripping into the toilet which took three flushes to go away. Happened again the following morning. Thankfully I had no nausea or vomiting as I was flying home the next day!

  40. Lisa
    June 6, 2016 at 5:32 pm #

    Escolar caused a miserable, miserable night for me. My husband and I went to a very expensive restaurant for our first wedding anniversary. I was served escolar as an appetizer, no more than 2 oz. I had never heard of it, received no warning of any kind. That night, I experienced severe gastrointestinal distress (both kinds at once), passed out and hit my face on the edge of the bathtub, and got a black eye in the bargain. The name of the fish was correctly disclosed, but the name meant nothing without the warning. My husband called the restaurant the next day and read them the riot act, but they were not that contrite–just said the chef didn’t think a small amount would be problematic. They gave us a gift certificate for $150 to dine with them again. We never could bring ourselves to redeem it.

    • June 6, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

      That is a horrible story, Lisa! It is amazing how many people are sickened by escolar – like you with no warnings. But a black eye too! This fish, as is done in Italy and Japan, should not be sold. Every single day, I get about 100 hits on my website just from people looking for what made them sick when they ate escolar or butterfish or whatever the eatery is calling it. Enough!

  41. Brad
    June 10, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Watch out if eating at a seafood restaurant in the food market area in Vienna. I too ordered something called butterfish and within 24 hours had the bright orange oily discharge that has forever stained a couple of toilet brushes. Selling something as food the human body can’t digest should be illegal.

    • June 10, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

      I absolutely agree, Brad! I have to wonder what is going on. The whole issue of escolar being called butterfish didn’t seem to be a global one but it now seems that “butterfish” is being found everywhere (except for Italy and Japan where escolar is banned). I wonder if this has been an intiative by the folks who market escolar. It is indeed outrageous that it is out there for sale!

  42. Paul
    June 16, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    I was born in the Caribbean, and Butter fish was/is one of the best/better smaller sized fishes. It is eaten regularly. Its is fried, put in Fish soup, and even in curry or a stew

    The problem is since globalization Western counties are encountering food in the east and other places are are tying to matching it with what they already knowing instead of just using the local name.

    It causes a whole bunch of confusion.

    • June 16, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

      I agree with you, Paul. The proper name should be used for various fish. Escolar is not butterfish. It should be called escolar and nothing else. Doing so would allow people to make decisions, even checking on their smartphones before selecting a fish they are not familiar with. It would also prevent the reputation of the real butterfish from being tarnished. You’re right that it causes a whole bunch of confusion but even worse, it sickens many, many people!

  43. John
    June 21, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    Rosie, I bought some frozen headless and gutted “Butterfish” with a bracketed name of Croaker.
    It was labelled as being from Guyana.
    I got it at my local Loblaws Superstore in Ontario, Canada.

    I did have an upset stomach and the “trots” after eating just one of them, and was doing some research when I came upon your interesting site.
    I didn’t see any mention of Croaker, so I’m not sure what I ate.

    Whilst it was very tasty I think I’ll toss the rest of it and stick with Hake (from S, Africa), a nice fish I’ve recently discovered at the same store.
    As a sidebar, I find it ironic that Canada, a country surrounded numerous oceans, needs to import fish anyway.

  44. charles casler
    August 5, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    Thanks for the info. An ad here in The Villages advertised two dinners of Butterfish for $22.00 I think I will pass.

    • August 5, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

      I think that’s a smart idea, Charles! Your tummy may certainly thank you!

  45. August 10, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    My wife and I eat escolar sashimi once a month. It is labelled by the restaurant as butterfish (escolar), which seems fair to me. It is an extremely tasty fish, and any casual research will reveal that if you eat less than 6oz, you are very unlikely to have an issue. I agree that there should be more public information and particularly by restaurants who serve it, but certainly any sort if ban is nanny state over-kill.

    • August 10, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Kevin. But I have to disagree with you. Many people, including the restaurateurs who serve butterfish (they may not even be told about its proper name), may not know about the consequences of eating larger quantities. I see it all the time. It also happened to my husband a few years back. I have seen it on menus as a main course (which may be a large quantity) and I’ve also seen it at “all you can eat” Japanese restaurants. More information can only be available if the place serving it to you knows of the risks. And when I see that I get more than 100 hits each and everyday (sometimes a few hundred) on my website about the after effects, I have to wonder about the wisdom of selling it.

    August 10, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    Had it fried in Pasco, it was quite delicious, I had no problems with it..

  47. Angela
    September 13, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

    Had butterfish tonight and yes it was very tasty. Also suffered the ugly after effects. I am hoping it was a one time bathroom visit and I won’t be up all night.

    • September 14, 2016 at 9:17 am #

      Best of luck, Angela! I hope the effects did not last too long. It’s time to stop the sale of escolar without providing warning labels. Better yet, it shouldn’t be sold at all!

  48. david proffitt-white
    September 22, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    I ate a fair amount of BUTTER FISH bought from a fish monger in CHRISTCHURCH NEW ZEALAND I really did eat a fair amount of it ,instead of Blue Cod . Tere were no ill effects etc, oh I also had two meals of Butter fish in PICTON (top of SOUTH ISLAND N/Z.

    • September 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

      David, I suspect that what you ate was likely not escolar. It may have actually been butterfish or another fish besides escolar. This is where the problem is: fish are being called by all kinds of names rather than the proper ones. It’s possible that in New Zealand, you have yet to come across escolar. Here’s hoping, for your sake, you don’t!

  49. monniep
    October 18, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    I have had butterfish several times in South Africa, and have experienced these side effects every time. Its worth it though, its a tasty fish – as long as you are aware of whats coming!

    • October 18, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

      Being aware of what’s coming may be fine if what you experience is somewhat mild. I would venture to say that if you experienced escolar’s symptoms in a severe fashion, you likely would never eat it again. Considering the symptoms may include one or more of the following: the rectal passage of an oily yellow or orange substance (called keriorrhoea), diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and headache, a person could feel quite ghastly afterwards. I do know that following my husband’s escolar episode, he wouldn’t touch it, under any circumstances!

  50. Novello
    November 15, 2016 at 2:19 am #

    I had symptoms within an hour or so of eating the fish yesterday. I was at a hotel in Guildford for a conference and we had ‘butterfish’ for lunch. I asked the server what it was as it was delicious and I didn’t recognise it (we had been told it was salmon even though it was white!! It did resemble salmon in every other way though. The server went to speak to the chef and came back and told me it was butterfish and that it was a bit like tuna.)
    I was very surprised I hadn’t come across it before. I love fish and I travel extensively. During the afternoon session I felt a little unwell with indigestion type symptoms. Tummy cramps and nausea and had to visit the loo several times. I didn’t link it with the fish until I googled butterfish this morning. I certainly won’t be eating it again! Such a shame as it tasted divine!

    • November 15, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

      It is indeed a shame, Novello – both that it tastes so good and that you suffered the ill effects of escolar! The indigestible fat is what makes it so tasty but is also the culprit for the horrible after effects. Safe travels and avoid escolar and butterfish!

  51. sandy
    November 26, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    I had these exact same symptoms after eating foie gras pate’, duck and fried duck gizzards on a salad in Paris. Thank goodness for pep bismol I was able to fly home to Kauai. I have heard of this happening with butterfish here in Hawaii. I was surprised to have this happen to me without eating any fish.

  52. Kevin
    February 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    I went to a high end restaurant and ordered a fish called Walu on the menue. After two hours I ended up in an emergency room with nausea, cramps, shortness of breath, and vomiting. The next day I experienced this orange oily susbstance leaving my body. Be very careful eating this fish!

  53. Luke
    February 23, 2017 at 7:30 am #

    Thanks for this thread giving me a piece of mind on what’s happening to me!
    In the gili islands of Lombok and ordered a restaurant’s “signature butterfish” yesterday. This morning woke up and noticed bright orange oily substance in the toilet, only just started with some minor cramps this evening, however so much of the oily substance from flatulance! Hopefully passes soon!

  54. Sam Navon
    March 11, 2017 at 11:56 pm #

    Your website made me a successful detective when I searched why I am having the oily discharge now and once before in 1998. The latter time was in South Africa after having the best tasting fish I’ve ever had – and never connected the effects. I’m a physician and reasoned that my gallbladder was temporarily hyperactive (cut me some slack, I’m an ophthalmologist). Here in Athens, I was eager to have the ‘Butterfish’ once again and am similarly affected.

    There are definitely different tolerances to substance as this time I ate two plate-fulls at a buffet with the discharge as the only symptom. However, although I can imagine a small portion being ok, I would never knowingly eat again.

    Thanks for the warning and helping us solve the mystery.

    • March 12, 2017 at 8:59 am #

      Glad I could help! Sam, it is indeed unfortunate but more and more people are being affected by this – right around the world!

  55. Agnieszka
    March 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    Yesterday I ate a meal at an expensive Italian restaurant in Whistler , BC. It was my birthday. After looking at the menu I decided to go for a fish called ‘sablefish’ served on oven roasted vegetables. I got a beautiful, big piece of juicy fish. It felt extremely buttery, but I blamed it on the kitchen, who I thought added butter to the fish. Shortly after eating my stomach felt sore. By the time we payed our bill, I started feeling very bad and my face turned white. My stomach was definitely unhappy and I didn’t feel like after eating a fish prepared at home at all. That’s when I googled ‘sablefish’ to check what kind of fish is it… and I realized I just ate a massive chunk of butterfish. We had to take a taxi home and as soon as we got there I vomited the whole dinner (~$38 for the fish). My stomach felt sore the morning after, but I saved myself from much more suffering… what a horrible experience. There definitely should be a worning on the side of that dish and HOW AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT CAN SELL A FISH THAT NOONE EATS IN ITALY, MORE, ITS BANNED THERE. That’s a shame. There’re so many better fish choices that could be served in Whistler than that muddy piece of garbage. Stay away from butterfish!

  56. Sanda roxana
    April 3, 2017 at 1:43 am #

    I eat yesterday with my husband and child this fish and in the morning we woke up with with voma feeling and when we went to the toilet we noticed a lot of oil on the wc. We hope we’ll be fine, cause in this moment i am scared about how long it will least!

    • April 3, 2017 at 7:38 am #

      I’m sorry to hear of your escolar experience! This fish should not be sold but if it is, there should be a warning label. The effects usually last between 24 and 48 hours. I hope it’s the shorter time for you.

  57. Victoria
    April 13, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    It’s my favorite fish and I’ve never experienced any laxative effects. I feel so lucky it’s delicious

    • April 16, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Victoria! I do have to wonder, though, what kind of fish you are eating. It may indeed be butterfish and not escolar. If it was escolar, I believe at some point, you might have experienced its ghastly effects.

  58. Hayley
    April 30, 2017 at 2:24 am #

    Found this thread while trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my body..
    I usually order tuna sashimi with no problems, but tonight I sprung for the “white tuna” as a treat – oh dear.
    Thanks for the heads up

    • April 30, 2017 at 11:12 am #

      I would like to say “my pleasure” in providing this information but I wish this fish would be banned as it is in Japan and Italy. Only awareness will help to minimize the numbers of people getting ill from escolar.

  59. Tina Raine-Bennett
    May 3, 2017 at 2:59 pm #

    I visited Cape Town South Africa and had “butter” fish at my hotel (A Marriott chain) – I developed keiorrhea (oily orange defacation) for a week. Later in the trip I saw this “butter” fish raw at a fish market and knew exactly what had happened – it has the orange oil on it – this is not visible when cooked and the fish was delicious. At the fish market they said you should only consume small portions!!!

    • May 3, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

      It is indeed amazing how this fish is being sold in so many countries- without any warning labels. I think that governments are shirking their responsibilities by not banning this fish or at the very least, requiring warning signs. Consumers should find out about the effects in the way you have!

  60. Shawn Livermore
    May 7, 2017 at 8:13 am #

    My husband took me to a new buffet restaurant in Orlando. It’s called Kirin on Lee road. I had never seen this sashimi before. I asked the waiter what it was. He lied to me and said it was white tuna. After getting abdominal cramps, I looked it up. Then I called the restaurant. The manager told me it was escolar. I am so.mad they sell it and lie to people.

    • May 8, 2017 at 9:18 am #

      Shawn, this problem is becoming more and more common. I don’t know if the waiter lied or was just not informed that it was escolar. The manager, though, should be telling pans. Have you contacted the restaurant or any local health authorities? I tnink we all need to be more vocal about this in order to get escolar out of our food supply!

  61. Nicci Blignaut
    June 2, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Oh my word I was so violently ill after eating Butterfish. Such a pity because I really thought it was delicious.) :

  62. Ady
    June 16, 2017 at 5:15 am #

    Thank God I found your site when my problems started and I left the office before it got really disgusting and messy. Otherwise it would have been the most humiliating experience of my life (having white pants turned orange).

  63. Jon Netts
    June 19, 2017 at 11:46 pm #

    I eat butter every week, either steamed with ginger or fried with garlic. Never had a problem.
    I buy it on the harbour side stall in Thailand.

    • June 20, 2017 at 6:54 am #

      I have to wonder, Jon, if it’s a different fish and not escolar. It sounds as though it might be a local fish if you’re buying it at that location – unless it’s farmed there as I’m not sure if escolar is from that area. Check it out and please let us know!

      • Jon
        June 20, 2017 at 7:10 am #

        The butterfish I buy I thought was wild as its quite pricey, looks similar to white promfret though much cheaper.
        As with all fish they seem to have local names and if I translate butterfish into Thai they dont understand.
        Its a thick white fleshed fish with a small gut and normally has roe.
        Never had a problem with it but maybe steaming it helps.
        Delicious with ginger!

      • June 20, 2017 at 7:18 am #

        I looked up escolar in Thai. Ask them if it’s โรงเรียน.

      • Jon
        June 20, 2017 at 7:30 am #

        What you have written in Thai is Roong Rian which is the thai for a school.
        So I think you may have a translation a scholar!
        Bplaa noyee would be a literal translation but is not recognised.

      • Jon
        June 21, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

        Further to my earlier post, the walu/ escolar you write about bears no resemblance to the butterfish I eat in Thailand.
        Hence I have never had a problem. Shows how confusing a generic name can be!

  64. June 20, 2017 at 8:44 am #

    Ha! So much for Google Translate! I have never doubted it but I will in future! Who knows what I have been saying!

  65. Miranda
    June 21, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

    I cannot agree. I have been addictively eating escolar, also called walu, for a decade at 4 different local restaurants. I always feel my best after my sushi dinner dates! Perhaps we’re in a fresh food resort area (Coeur d’alene, Idaho), and everyone else is suffering from restaurant mishandling?

    • June 21, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

      Miranda, you may somehow be immune to escolar’s effects if you’re eating significant amounts and not reacting to it. I don’t believe that these symptoms are due to any kind of mishandling as it’s been well documented as to escolar’s effects. That’s why it’s banned in Italy and Japan. I also get between 150 and 200 hits on my website each and every day as people seek out what happened to them after eating it. This add up to more than 150,000 hits since the post has been up. The question is why don’t you react?

  66. Tammy Strickland
    July 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    We eat a lot of butterfish in Hawaii as we have many Japanese eateries. I had never heard of any adverse symptoms but after scoring two huge pieces of fish at the local farmers market, I took them home and cooked them with miso which is how it is usually served. My husband and our room mate ate it and sharted themselves the next day with that yellow stuff I did not. It was delicious but I would recommend smaller portions 😊

    • July 3, 2017 at 11:46 am #

      Sorry to hear this, Tammy! I agree- the small portion sizes are key. But the question is how many people know this? There should be warning signs for this fish or maybe even better, it shouldn’t be sold at all!

  67. Lisa
    July 19, 2017 at 4:22 am #

    OMG!!! Thank u for this article!!! I got so shocked after I experienced symptoms after eating butterfish. What about other fish? Is it better no to consume them at all? Thx!

    • July 19, 2017 at 8:06 am #

      I would say my pleasure but it’s anything but to inform people about escolar. Depending on where you’re located, it may be called white tuna as well. But don’t confuse it with white albacore tuna which is a different species.

  68. Anthony
    July 24, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

    Just got back from sag harbor ny had “butterfish” at the American hotel in sag harbor ny. An upscale beutiful restaurant. Well this morning I was wtf. Oily greasy discharge was going to call my Doc until I read this. Had never heard of escolar or white tuna. How would they get escolar to sag harbour ny. When they have so many local fish? At least I know I’ll live. And got another education. Would like to let them know. It was a special. Idiots probably don’t even know about these side effects.

  69. Jeff
    August 18, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

    Had white tuna at a very good sushi restaurant in Atlanta, part of a chirashi don. 2 fat slices of white tuna-like delicious meat. the waitress said it was white tuna. 2nd time I have had it…no issues whatever. Per Tom James’ comment, it must have been Ibodai. On a side note, folks do seem to like discussing their movements…merely saying they had diarrhea would suffice 😉

    • August 19, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

      Jeff, I’m glad to hear that you had no problems! Are you sure it wasn’t white albacore tuna? If so, then that might explain your not getting sick. Or the portion size may have been fine for you. I think the reason people discuss the details is that the results are quite shocking for many- quite unlike anything they’ve experienced before. I won’t go into detail as I’m sure you’ve read enough comments here to get the picture!

  70. Rolf Cederberg
    August 24, 2017 at 1:55 am #

    From Australia, bought huge butterfish 3 days ago, and told hubby he can have the small portion and I want the largest piece. My piece was huge, perhaps 500 to 600 gr. Next day, whilst brushing my teeth, I felt something running down my leg, (without warning). It was yellow and very oily, not to mention the smell. Had a shower, but shortly after, here comes the oil again, sat on the toilet all that day, with huge roll of toilet paper. Oil, oil, and more oil. Next day more yellow oil, stomach churning and washing galore, only bleach takes it off. Third day today, all day on the couch with headache, but lucky the oil is stopping

  71. CS
    October 5, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

    Butterfish should be illegal everywhere! It is by far the tastiest fish I have ever eaten but I will never eat it again. I ate it at a Japanese restaurant in Barrie, Canada about six weeks ago and next day I pooped orange oil. I had no idea what caused it. Yesterday I went to the same restaurant and ate around 8 pieces of butterfish. Today I am again pooping orange oil. This led me to Google butterfish. FYI it is listed as butterfish on the restaurant menu. It’s white, soft and creamy!

    • October 6, 2017 at 9:03 am #

      I strongly agree with you. For butterfish/escolar to be sold is nothing short of outrageous. But when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is asked, they have no reports of problems. Part of the issue is that victims do not report it to the authorities. Well, it’s time we let them know! Please fill out the form on this CFIA link and let them know your thoughts! Enough is enough!

  72. nancylebovitz
    April 2, 2018 at 3:01 pm #

    Thank you very much for writing this– I got some smoked butterfish about the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. It didn’t taste that great, but I ate about 3/4 of a pound in two days, and then got diarrhea. No discharge. It looks like I got off easy.

    I’d heard of digestive problems from white tuna, so I thought to check on butterfish, and it turned out to be white tuna.

  73. John Cavaquinho
    July 6, 2018 at 2:33 pm #

    I often ate “butterfish” in laulau when I lived in Hawaii and never had any problems. It must certainly have been a species other than escolar. I also worry about traditional “medicine” from Mexico and China; one can never tell what’s in them. Governments should force everyone even schoolchildren to call plants and animals by their correct binomial names and impose frightful penalties for misrepresentation in commerce.

    • July 16, 2018 at 10:30 am #

      John, I agree with you wholeheartedly! Using proper names would offer many benefits. It’s really quite infuriating that these sellers can get away with this!

  74. Jack
    July 22, 2018 at 10:11 am #

    I can’t believe this happened to me again. Well here in Malaysia they sell this white fish and call it Cod or Halibut when it fact it seems to be anything but that. Yes it must be escolar or some near relative which causes those gross oily stools. Thankfully I have no other side effects and have to just ride it out.

    • July 23, 2018 at 11:26 am #

      I’m sorry to hear this, Jack! I hope you’re feeling better. We need to see an end to seafood fraud! Did you contact the seller? I think it’s important to let vendors know what can happen. Maybe a little fear of the consequences might get them to look at the issues.

  75. Jessidooby
    August 4, 2018 at 10:47 am #

    My husband and I brought it camping and made it over the fire. It was delicious, I didn’t have any ill effects. My husband is another story, he had horrifying stomach cramps and the oily orange discharge, which was ejected forcefully from his rectum not by choice!!!! Hooo boy it was bad! Poor guy! Lol 😂

    • August 6, 2018 at 12:20 pm #

      Poor guy is right! What a horrible experience to have on a camping trip! It’s horrible at any time but more so while camping! Can I ask where you are located? I am trying to see where all the butterfish incidents are being experienced. Thanks!

  76. mindy
    September 16, 2018 at 4:27 pm #

    the horrible 2+ days reaction that I had to escolar 10 years ago in carmel CA., USA –caused me to research it. on the web, there are 2 Australian medical papers about it, regarding 2 convention groups eating it. seems that the quantity of 6 ounces and over–is the big culprit,while a smaller amount often causes no problem. I had eaten it as a delicious entrée at a carmel Japanese restaurant. locally, i found that Monterey Whole foods market had stopped selling it; another local fish store did sell it. I think I remember that escolar is eaten a lot in Australia, being abundant in the surrounding waters, but i’m not sure.

  77. Steve
    September 28, 2018 at 10:40 pm #

    I’m in Melbourne, Australia. I ate one small fillet of Butter fish (battered and deep fried) 18 hours ago. Within the last hour I have developed abdominal cramps and have been spending more time than usual sitting on the toilet. I’ll spare you any further details.
    That’s it for me and Butterfish. We’re done.
    I’m going back to flathead, whiting, and blue grenadier for my Friday night fish & chips ritual.

    • September 29, 2018 at 4:48 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear of your experience, Steve! Unfortunately it is happening to more and more people and it appears that most governments will do nothing about it. At least, if it was labelled as escolar then people could possibly look up the aftereffects before ordering it. We should follow the examples of Japan and Italy – the countries that have banned it!

  78. Ferit Tuzer
    November 25, 2018 at 5:20 pm #

    I’ve cooked and eaten 4 butterfish in a sitting twice without problems so far. I eat it with green leaf salad that I make.

    • November 25, 2018 at 9:21 pm #

      If you have eaten 4 fish at a time, then you may have actually eaten butterfish, not escolar. Escolar are larger fish with the smallest weighing about six kilos. That’s the problem when the proper name is not used.

  79. Lesley Marton
    January 24, 2019 at 11:26 am #

    I had butterfish at a restaurant in Bali this time last year, the day before I flew back to Australia where we were staying with my new partner’s family. (I live in the UK) The following night I had very bad diarrhoea and had to keep dashing to the toilet, in the dark, so I didn’t wake anyone up. As soon as I got back to bed, up I had to get again. It was a real nightmare situation and by the morning I was totally exhausted, SO embarrassing when you are not in your own home! Never again!!

    • January 29, 2019 at 11:43 am #

      I’m sorry to hear of your nasty night, Lesley! It’s really unfortunate that this fish is allowed to be sold for consumption (unlike Japan and Italy where it’s banned), especially without its proper name being used and a warning attached. At least, if people saw escolar on the menu and read the warning, they could make an informed decision.

  80. Irina
    February 9, 2019 at 3:30 am #

    I had butterfish sashimi in Munchen with no problem. Since I liked it, I decided to buy more. I found it in a German chain supermarket, correctly labeled (latin name of the fish included), with the warning “it contains non-digestible fat esters which can induce gastrointestinal problems”. Because it seemed to be safe before and I loved it so much, I ignored the warning and ate a sandwich with flatbread and butterfish (about 100 g). Two hours after, nausea started, followed by retrosternal chest pain irradiating to the left scapula, which made me think I was having a heart attack. That scared me enough to look more info, and here I am. No diarrhea so far, it’s already 24 hours. I was curious to see if the symptoms can be reproduced, so I had a similar sandwich two hours ago. I am ok so far.

    • February 13, 2019 at 3:42 pm #

      Irina, I’m glad you’re alright! The problem is that who knows whether the butterfish sashimi was the same fish that you bought at the supermarket. There is so much incorrect labelling on fish. I was surprised to read that the supermarket labelled the fish with a warning. Most people have no idea what has hit them when they start to get ill from this fish.

  81. Babet
    February 13, 2019 at 4:58 am #

    We had butterfish 2 days ago. Disgusting side effects! Quite an expensive fish here in South Africa.Will obviously NEVER buy again!

    • February 13, 2019 at 3:29 pm #

      It is truly amazing how many people are sickened by this fish and yet most countries still allow it to be sold. I hope that you are feeling better and please spread the word about this fish. Aswell, you might consider complaining to the appropriate people in South Africa who deal with fish regulations.

  82. Montira Warran
    February 15, 2019 at 9:51 pm #

    As a Native Hawaiian, I have grown up with butterfish being a regular part of my diet. Usually, the butterfish has been part of laulau, which is steamed for many hours. That said, I have never been ill after eating butterfish. So, I’m wondering if the problems I’m reading about were due to how the butterfish (or what was presented as butterfish) was prepared.

    • February 19, 2019 at 8:38 am #

      Montira, it’s hard for me to say whether the preparation was responsible for avoiding these common problems or if the butterfish that was part of your diet was not the same fish that’s called butterfish these days. While steaming fish for many hours may allow these fatty components responsible for the digestive problems to drip off, I’m more inclined to think it was a different fish entirely. The fish responsible for these symptoms is called escolar and I think interchanging the two names is a relatively new phenomenon. The whole issue of calling fish by other names is a huge problem these days.

  83. MC
    March 7, 2019 at 5:58 am #

    My experience with butterfish was not as bad as orange roughy in Australia. Butterfish was ok for me most of the time and I don’t mind the flavour whereas my husband does not like it at all. I am not sure if it was the butterfish but on one occasion, I actually had really bad green diarrhea right after finishing a sashimi meal at a Japanese restaurant. I don’t get this at all with any other fish. Orange roughy on the other hand was shocking. I love eating it, but I get uncontrollable orange oil discharge and orange oil bowel movements/diarrhea for a day or two after eating it.

    • March 11, 2019 at 3:17 pm #

      MC, I think that what you called butterfish was not escolar, but some other fish. There may have been a problem on that one occasion with some type of foodborne illness. But what you’re calling orange roughy sounds as though it was escolar as it’s the one fish that leaves you with an orange oily discharge and bowel movements. It really is quite ridiculous how the names of various fish species are not provided to consumers. It seems that this is happening globally and consumers should not stand for it! We should all be contacting federal government officials and putting a stop to it. As well, escolar should be banned as it is in Japan and Italy!

  84. Peter
    March 15, 2019 at 1:13 pm #

    Wow I just had some of this fish yesterday smoked it was so delicious, and today and last night I’ve been pooping straight up oil 😂 not worth it

    • March 15, 2019 at 2:09 pm #

      Peter, I’m assuming there was no warning attached. They should, at least, do that! Feel better!

  85. T. Marc Knutsen
    March 17, 2019 at 1:56 am #

    This fish should be banned from retail sale. Labeling is not sufficient. Banning all retail sales with violation accountability is the only sane and practical regulation regarding this fish.

    • March 17, 2019 at 11:42 am #

      I agree with you, Marc! It is ridiculous that this fish is allowed to be sold. We need to follow the leads of countries like Italy and Japan in banning it, especially as it seems to becoming a bigger and bigger issue.

  86. Justine Rutledge
    April 10, 2019 at 6:50 am #

    Just back from Namibia. Served what they called ‘butterfish’ on our last night. Severe diarrheo , yellow liquid, headache. I also have IBS…now my husband has much milder symptoms but the same oily yellow discharge.

    • April 11, 2019 at 12:41 pm #

      It’s so unfortunate that they don’t call this fish by its proper name. Better yet, they should ban it – especially for people who have other health concerns such as yours. I hope you’re feeling well now!

  87. Patricia Burke
    June 20, 2019 at 12:06 am #

    I had Butterfish, identified in small print that it could cause an upset stomach. Also not excepting any responsibility for that. I loved the fish. Loved it. I went home and spent the entire evening in the bathroom. Horrible. Will never eat it again

  88. Mike
    August 30, 2019 at 9:40 pm #

    I have been eating butterfish/”white tune” sashimi for years and never had any problems. Is it healthy? Is bacon healthy? Nobody should eat either things on daily basis. People will always have problems and allergies, e.g Shiitake mushrooms or MSG. Why the panic? Examples of potentially toxic foods: starfruit or fiddlehead. Ban it to? How many people complaining hear verified that it was butterfish and not common food poisoning?

    Relax people.


    • September 2, 2019 at 12:50 pm #

      Mike, I think that there’s a big difference between eating foods that may not offer health benefits and those such as escolar. It’s possible that you have actually eaten butterfish – as there really is such as fish. Yes, if someone simply has stomach cramps, the culprit may indeed be food poisoning. But for those with oily, orange stools and stomach cramps, there’s no doubt about the cause. Maybe if the fish was properly labelled with a warning, then that might be sufficient but the way it appears on most menus, my opinion is that it shouldn’t be served.

      • Mike
        September 7, 2019 at 4:07 pm #


        Escolar, popularly known as butterfish or less often as ‘super white tuna’ is Lepidocybium flavobrunneum. It has that unusually unique butter-like taste and texture, for which many people consider it a delicacy. It’s not toxic, but contains oils that are not digestible by us, and thus overeating can results in diarrhea. If you consume too much of anything that is not digestible, e.g psyllium husks or you will end up with similar bowel problems. Hell, too much oil and butter also will give you diarrhea.

        You are right that butterfish can also be referred to another fish: the American (or Atlantic) butterfish: Peprilus triacanthus. This fish is rarely available for sale or offered in restaurants. It doesn’t have laxative effects. I never had the chance to try it, though I know it is served in some places as a regular dinner fish. White tuna or albacore: Thunnus alalunga, is the stuff you buy in cans and eat for dinner.

        Educate people that you can’t stuff yourself with butterfish/escolar, have restaurants provide warning on overeating this and give hefty fines to restaurants/stores for mislabeling the fish as albacore, as you would do for any other food fraud.

        Again butterfish/escolar is not toxic, its very tasting, and perfectly fine as a delicacy food. There is no need to ban it!


      • September 8, 2019 at 9:18 am #

        Mike, you’re right when you say that small amounts are not likely a problem but if eating an average serving size of fish – not stuffing yourself or overeating (as you say) can make you quite sick, then I don’t believe it should be sold. I can understand if you think that people are eating it in “all you can eat” sushi restaurants (but even then, I don’t think it should be sold without a strong warning) and then becoming sick that they should simply eat less. But that’s not the case. There are so many other fish that people can enjoy and not risk the consequences and that includes real butterfish and real white – albacore- tuna.

    • Nancy Lebovitz
      September 2, 2019 at 3:22 pm #

      Mike, small amounts of butterfish seem to be alright for most people, but the level of diarrhea I had is something I never want to experience again. Yes, I’ll eat two little slices, but selling smoked butterfish by the pound is not what I’d call acceptable, and it seems like most people have a problem with substantial portions.

      I suggest you go to an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet that offers butterfish and chow down and see how you do.

      Even if you’re alright, well, there are people who are immune to poison ivy, but most people should avoid it.

  89. Caroline
    September 5, 2019 at 8:15 pm #

    I am curious to know how many of the incidents of “bad” butterfish (ie. escolar) happened in Hawaii? I was born and raised in Hawaii, and growing up, butterfish has been my favorite fish, barnone. The Japanese who make it either misoyaki style or simply broiled with salt crystal dusting seem from my experience to know to use the North Pacifc Sablefish, which I do not believe is the same as escolar. The North Pacific Sablefish is sometimes referred to as “Black Cod.” I have no idea of Escolar is sometimes referred to as “Black Cod” as well, but if it is? That would explain so much of the nebulous confusion with regard to all of this.

    I do not have a great immune system, and for that reason, I doubt great health has been the reason I never reacted to my favorite fish. I simply surmise that whilst I’ve had Butterfish a lot in Honolulu, I have never eaten escolar.

    North Pacific Sablefish is amazing. There is nothing like it. It really is like butter. I… can’t imagine another fish having the same texture and flavor, so I wonder that there seem to be substitutes for the dishes I love. I would definitely know if it were a different kind of fish being used.

    • September 27, 2019 at 2:49 pm #

      Caroline, it sounds as though you have had the real butterfish rather than what’s being called butterfish in many parts of the world. I don’t think that sablefish or black cod , though, are ever called butterfish, despite its buttery texture. Yes, I agree with you that if you had eaten a regular portion of escolar, you would know it! I’ve had about 250,000 hits on this post as people are looking for answers to their post-escolar gastrointestinal troubles!

  90. June
    September 8, 2019 at 4:51 am #

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one who had diarrhoea after eating it on a cruise to Iceland in July.
    So I I consulted the medics, locked in the cabin just in case I had norovirus then after paying for tests & told I had bacterial infection!!!! Avoid it if possible !!!

    • September 8, 2019 at 9:20 am #

      June, that’s horrible to have happen on a cruise! It’s horrible at any time but on holiday? That’s infuriating! If the cruise line served it, I would contact them for compensation. They should know what they are serving.

  91. Todd
    November 20, 2019 at 10:18 pm #

    While this blog post at first glance seems intended to offer information to protect the public, its sensationalist title should be amended, at minimum, to include quotation marks around the word ‘butterfish’. The problem is not butterfish, it’s misinformation, and you are guilty of the same offense. Nowhere did your article mention a difference between escolar “often listed as butterfish” and “real butterfish”. It took several commenters to bring this important distinction to light. Don’t assume that all or most of your 250k post hits are from sufferers of oily discharge. Don’t forget to robotically thank me for my comment. Have a good day.

    • November 25, 2019 at 2:52 pm #

      Todd, I’m sorry that you feel that my post offers misinformation. Yes, there is most definitely misinformation out there surrounding escolar and its labelling. The real butterfish is not very common and it’s not, as you know, what’s causing these horrible gastrointestinal problems. It’s escolar masquerading as butterfish on menus that is the problem, so yes, I stand behind the title. And finally, I am not a robot but a dietitian who is trying to bring awareness about the mislabelling of fish.

  92. Massimo Barsotti
    November 23, 2019 at 11:14 am #

    Ive eat them in cape town..the fish is very nice, but ive been bleading oil from my ass for two days..just oil diarrea..batter if u frosen before and eat small of it!

    • November 25, 2019 at 2:54 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties, Massimo. I don’t think that freezing the fish will lessen its effects. You’re right that only eating small amounts – or maybe none at all- is a solution.

    January 19, 2020 at 9:56 am #

    My family know this “butterfish” derisively as “oilys”! Very embarrassing side effects for sure, but very tast! The trick is not to eat a lot of it! If I am not mistaken, there was a label on it that said “Patagonian tooth fish” !

  94. January 28, 2020 at 3:05 am #

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    You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not
    that I really will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new
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  95. Wayne Stirling
    March 31, 2020 at 11:12 am #

    Just finished reading – laughing – through all the comments. We live in Johannesburg, South Africa and have a well-known fish market that we frequent. A few years back while shopping there, we saw a tray with 1″ thick cuts of Butterfish that must have been all of 6″ in diameter and at a fantastic price so we bought 2….for 2 of us, not a family, not a gathering…just the 2 of us! We cooked them to perfection and I have to admit that at the time of eating it was, without doubt, the best-tasting fish I had ever eaten – and the biggest. Fast forward about an hour to being doubled over in agony with orange oil dribbling out of my butt by gravity alone. The whole night and a large portion of the next day I cramped and leaked! Funnily, my wife was totally unaffected and now, a few years down the line I still get shivers down my spine at the thought of eating Butterfish! Perhaps some people have genetics that enables them to absorb the oil?

    • March 31, 2020 at 11:35 am #

      It’s wonderful that you can now laugh about it, Wayne! Yes, we’re all different genetically! Your wife is among the lucky ones but who knows if it’s in the genes or what she had eaten that day or even the microbes in her gut. There are many of us, though, who experience butterfish the awful way that you did. It shouldn’t be sold- or if it is, there should be mandatory warnings!

  96. Beth D
    October 11, 2020 at 7:05 am #

    Made the mistake of eating this fish from an all inclusive buffet whilst on holiday in Spain a few years ago. At the time it was the most delicious fish i had ever tasted in my life, so much so that i went back for seconds – Massive mistake! Spent the night in the bathroom and the following 3 days leaking orange oil, didn’t even feel it leaving my body, it just kinda sneaks out. Imagine my horror sat around the pool when my young daughter asked what all the orange stuff is on my clothing and towel!

  97. PacoBell
    February 11, 2022 at 6:00 pm #

    Real butterfish is of the family Stromateidae while escolar is of the family Gempylidae. Maybe that’s why some of the commenters can claim to have eaten butterfish without incident. They had the genuine article. There has been an inexpensive and rapid method to detect gempylotoxin in fish flesh since 2008, but for some reason or another, it was never widely commercialized.

    • March 11, 2022 at 5:33 pm #

      That’s very interesting! I think that if steps were taken to regulate its consumption, I think there might be interest in detecting the gempylotoxin but since escolar can be sold and even though many suffer the side effects, there’s no money to be made.

  98. Ion
    August 19, 2022 at 10:20 am #

    I had the side effects of butter fish after eating it in europe… google it and got to your article, thank you.

    • September 1, 2022 at 12:27 pm #

      I’m happy I was bale to help you sort this out but wish I had not had to! This fish should not be sold.

  99. Chris
    March 4, 2023 at 3:47 pm #

    Wow – not clearly identifying the distinction between ATLANTIC BUTTERFISH vs ESCOLAR right up front sure leads readers down a path….. and it’s not a helpful path! Tell readers right up front that the problematic fish is Escolar – ESCOLAR, and that ESCOLAR marketed under the name “butterfish” is NOT BUTTERFISH AT ALL.

    • March 5, 2023 at 8:22 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Chris. I do agree that telling people about escolar up front would be incredibly helpful – especially if it was listed on menus. But the problem is that the term escolar is not listed on most menus. Butterfish is – not Atlantic butterfish as that’s not what is found on these menus. So when people are getting ill following their meal, they have no idea that they have consumed escolar. Many learn about escolar after reading my post. But I am pretty clear in my post that it is escolar that is making them sick. butterfish. Unfortunately until more complaints are made to the appropriate authorities, this mislabelling will continue.

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