The escolar [es-kuh-lahr] is a species of fish found in deep tropical and temperate waters around the world. It is also known as Snake Mackerel, and sometimes marketed as ‘butterfish,’ ‘oilfish,’ ‘white tuna,’ ‘walu,’ or ‘codfish,’ a controversial practice due to potential health problems related with consumption of the fish. Like its relative the oilfish, escolar cannot metabolize the wax esters naturally found in its diet. This gives the escolar an oil content of 14–25% in its flesh. These wax esters may cause gastrointestinal distress in humans called ‘steatorrhea,’ the onset of which may occur between 30 minutes and 36 hours following consumption.

Symptoms may include stomach cramps, bright orange oil in stool, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and anal leakage. Because of the possible effects of consumption, escolar has been banned from consumption in Japan since 1977, as the Japanese government considers it toxic. It has also been banned in Italy. In 1999, the Swedish and Danish National Food Administrations informed fish trade associations and fish importing companies about the problems escolar and related fish could cause if not prepared properly and issued recommendations.

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