Fact Check: Is Tilapia a man made fish? Viral claim explored as California woman loses all her limbs 

Claims of  Tilapia  being a man-made fish debunked (Image via Freepik)
Claims of Tilapia being a man-made fish debunked (Image via Freepik)

California-native Laura Barajas had to have all her legs amputated after eating tilapia. The mother had purchased the fish from a local sea market, cooked and eaten the dish at home. Sadly, she ended up spending over a month in the hospital after the incident. The incident occured after rumors of the fish being man-made spread like wildfire. However, this is far from the truth.

According to a GoFundMe campaign which has been set up for the 40-year-old, Barajas fought the Virbio vulnificus bacteria in hospital which led to her having all her limbs removed.


This comes as rumors of the tilapia fish being man-made have circulated across social media platforms. Speculation of the freshwater animal also being a skinless “mutant” made it online. However, this is certainly false.

Although the fish is harvested on farms, no evidence of it being a mutant fish have made it online. It is also important to note that the fish is certainly not man-made.

The tilapia fish is not a man-made fish

Although it is usually raised in fish farms across the globe, it actually originated in the Middle East and Africa. According to The Healthy Fish, the species has been documented back to the days of ancient Egypt.

The species is often found in natural habitats like lakes, oceans and rivers worldwide.

This type of fish is ideal for farming since it does not mind being crowded. They can also survive with a cheap vegetarian diet.


Since they are often farmed across the world, many must have been under the assumption that they are man-made.

Despite tilapia not being man-made originally, AquAdvantage Salmon received FDA approval in 2015 to genetically engineer trout and tilapia.

Even though the fishes are not man-made, the way they are raised in farms has caused concern. The FDA found that fish farms in China fed animal faeces to the aquatic animals. They also discovered that the fish was carrying harmful chemicals in the past.

The safest way to consume this fish is best to avoid those from China and to procure those from the United States, Canada, Peru and the Netherlands instead.

People can also consume fishes like salmon, trout and herring instead as they have more omega-3 fatty acids than a single serving of tilapia.

Netizens can also donate to Laura Barajas’s GoFundMe which had received over $50K at the time of writing this article.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory on September 1. They warned citizens of the increase of Vibrio vulnificus bacterial infections which were being caused by the increase in the temperatures of water.

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Edited by Karishma Rao
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