A consumer in China’s southern city of Shenzhen recently purchased octopus at Sam’s Club, a US chain of membership-only retail warehouse stores owned by Walmart, only to find that there was a highly venemous blue-ringed octopus in the container, arousing public concern.
Blue-ringed octopuses are a category of very small species, usually only the size of a golf ball. They are very beautiful but highly venemous. They are named for the blue markings that streak across their body. In case of danger, the dark rings on the octopus’s body and claws can emit dazzling blue light to send out warning signals.
Although the octopus is small, it produces enough venom to kill an adult in a few minutes with a single bite. The toxin is a type of tetrodotoxin, which is not neutralized even after being cooked. It mainly paralyzes breathing and breathing-related muscles. Because there is no antidote, this species is one of the most poisonous marine creatures known.
On January 18, Sam’s Club issued an official response saying that the company attached great importance to food safety and established a relatively complete food safety management system. It promised that it would check the relevant qualification certificates of suppliers in strict accordance with national laws and regulations, and strictly implement the incoming inspection system.
“The raw materials of this product are confirmed to have come from Chinese waters, and the technological process covers the control of blue-ringed octopus. At the same time, the local market supervision department went to the store mentioned by the netizen for inspection, and found no abnormality. Up to now, we have never received similar feedback from other members,” said Sam’s Club.
According to the Shenzhen Municipal Market Supervision Administration‘s statement on January 19, it did not find any violations at the Sam’s Club store. The shelves and warehouses of 27 Sam’s Club and Walmart stores in the city were investigated, and no blue-ringed octopus was found.
Coincidentally, on January 16, a Weibo user in Guangdong uploaded a picture and asked a popular science blogger, “What I saw in the hot pot restaurant. Is this a blue-ringed octopus? Can I cook it?” On the same day, the blogger replied that it was indeed a blue-ringed octopus.
An aquatic science blogger said that the eastern sea area of Shenzhen is the distribution area of blue-ringed octopus. There are at least three kinds of blue-ringed octopus in China’s waters – striped leopard octopus, crescent leopard octopus and spotted leopard octopus – which are widely distributed across tropical and subtropical coral reefs in the South China Sea, East China Sea and around Taiwan, but their numbers are very small compared with other octopus.