The liver of mammals, fowl, and fish is commonly eaten as food by humans. Domestic pig, ox, lamb, calf, chicken, goose, and cod livers are widely available from butchers and supermarkets. Animal livers are rich in iron, copper, the B vitamins and preformed vitamin A. 100 g cod liver contains 5 mg of vitamin A and 100 µg of vitamin D.
Liver can be baked, boiled, broiled, fried, stir-fried, or eaten raw (asbeh nayeh or sawda naye in Lebanese cuisine, liver sashimi). In many preparations, pieces of liver are combined with pieces of meat or kidneys, like in the various forms of Middle Eastern mixed grill (e.g. meurav Yerushalmi). Liver is often made into spreads. Well-known examples include liver pâté, foie gras, and chopped liver. Liver sausages such as Braunschweiger and liverwurst are also a valued meal and may also be used as spreads. A traditional South African delicacy, namely skilpadjies, is made of minced lamb's liver wrapped in netvet (caul fat), and grilled over an open fire.
Some fish livers are valued as food, especially the stingray liver. It is used to prepare delicacies, such as poached skate liver on toast in England, as well as the beignets de foie de raie and foie de raie en croute in French cuisine. Cod liver (usually tinned in its oil and served seasoned) is a popular spread for bread or toast in several European countries. In Russia, it is served with potatoes. Cod liver oil is commonly used as a dietary supplement.
Very high doses of vitamin A have the potential to be toxic and can cause hypervitaminosis A, a dangerous disorder. There have been several anecdotal reports and a few scientific studies of vitamin A poisoning due to the consumption of the livers of polar bears, walruses, bearded seals, moose, and huskies. The livers of these animals can contain very high levels of vitamin A.
Russian sailor Alexander Konrad, who accompanied explorer Valerian Albanov in a tragic ordeal over the Arctic ice in 1912, wrote about the awful effects of consuming polar bear liver. Also, in 1913, Antarctic explorers on the Far Eastern Party Douglas Mawson and Xavier Mertz were believed to have been poisoned, the latter fatally, from eating husky liver, though this has been contested recently.
Vitamin A poisoning is less likely from consuming oil-based vitamin A products and liver than from consuming water-based and solid preparations.
The neurotoxin in the liver of the pufferfish (which is consumed in Japanese cuisine as fugu, tightly regulated by Japanese law) contains the highest concentration of the tetrodotoxin, which characterizes the species. As a result, it is generally not eaten.
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