New Zealand issues shellfish biotoxin alert

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 6, 2017
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WELLINGTON, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on Friday issued a public health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from the Taranaki coastline from Awakino down to Oakura in the North Island.

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxins above the safe limit of 0.8 mg per kg set by MPI, said a ministry statement, adding that anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

Mussels, oysters, cockles, scallops, kina or a green sea urchin, and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten, the ministry warned, adding that cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut, the statement said, adding that if the gut is not removed, its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and three hours after ingestion and may include numbness and a prickly feeling around the mouth, face, hands and feet, difficulty swallowing or breathing, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis and respiratory failure, and in severe cases, death.

The ministry suggests those who become ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued, to seek medical attention immediately and contact the nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly, it said, adding that commercially harvested shellfish, sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported, is subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programs by the MPI to ensure they are safe to eat. Enditem

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