33 taken ill after eating grouper carrying toxin The Kowloon City fish stall at the centre of a food poisoning row affecting 33 people insisted yesterday it had not sold suspect tiger grouper and that its stock came from reliable wholesalers. The 33 people became ill with potentially lethal ciguatera, with 12 requiring admission to hospital. Most had eaten tiger grouper from the Yee Yau seafood stall on Wednesday, health and food authorities said. But one of the victims said their fish came from another wet market. The claim could not be verified last night. The 13 men and 20 women, aged between 16 and 88, developed symptoms of ingesting ciguatoxin 30 minutes to 13 hours after eating the tiger grouper. Symptoms of ciguatera include limb numbness, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and vomiting. All victims are in a stable condition. The poison is an accumulative toxin found in plankton which some reef-dwelling fish eat. Not all reefs are affected and thus not all reef dwelling fish are contaminated. Food and Environmental Hygiene Department officers inspected the Kowloon City wet market on Nga Tsin Wai Road yesterday and took bags of fresh leopard coral grouper and frozen green grouper for laboratory tests. The Centre for Health Protection said tiger grouper could have caused the food poisoning. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said it did not find any stock of tiger grouper during the inspection. The stall's owners, Mr Lai and Mr Chan, said the fish were bought from the usual wholesalers at Cheung Sha Wan, Aberdeen and Lei Yue Mun. They said they only took reef fish that had come from the Philippines, Indonesia and the southern mainland. 'We can only rely on our experience [to determine whether the fish are poisoned] and we usually buy from wholesalers we are familiar with,' Mr Lai said. The brother of one of the victims, a Mr Cheung, said his elder sister, her husband and mother-in-law had been admitted to hospital. 'We bought the fish outside [this wet market],' he said. The latest outbreak has prompted calls from lawmakers for the government to legislate on the sale of reef fish. Fred Li Wah-ming, chairman of the Legco food safety and environmental hygiene panel, said: 'The latest incident indicates the government should speed up legislation to control the import of reef fish.' Kwok Ka-ki, legislator for the medical sector, said a better system would protect people who ate reef fish. There have been eight other outbreaks of ciguatera poisoning involving 20 people this year.