Tongue-eating parasites have been found in a container of sea bream that was refused entry at a UK port.

A container of fish that was meant for human consumption underwent a routine health check by the Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority (SCPHA) as it arrived in Felixstowe.

However, the parasite, Cymothoa exigua, was found inside the sea bream.

The organism feeds off the fish by replacing its tongue.

The health authority said although the parasite was not a risk to human health the batch of fish was below expected standards.

Pic: Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority.

Image: Pic: Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority.

Danut Cazacu, an official veterinary surgeon at SCPHA who discovered the health hazard, said: “Investigations are carried out at our discretion, so when we detect something is wrong, we can have more of the consignment unloaded for further examination.

“After checking more cartons, it was apparent that most of the sea bream were infested, so we denied the consignment’s entry into the UK.

“From there the importer can choose to have it destroyed or sent back to them, and in this case they chose the latter.”

The authority has made other unusual discoveries in its consignments of food over the years, including maggots, live insects and a praying mantis.