Public Health Alert: Shellfish Biotoxin Threat Prompts Warning in East Cape, New Zealand

November 15, 2023

In response to elevated levels of paralytic shellfish toxins found in routine tests on mussels from Tolaga Bay, New Zealand Food Safety issues a public warning against collecting or consuming shellfish in the East Cape region. The advisory, spanning from Tatapouri Point to Koutunui Point, emphasizes the potential health risks associated with the toxins.

New Zealand Food Safety Deputy Director-General Vincent Arbuckle cautions the public, stating that cooking shellfish from the affected area does not eliminate the toxins, urging residents to refrain from gathering and consuming shellfish. Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning, including numbness, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, and respiratory issues, can manifest within 10 minutes to 3 hours of consumption, with severe cases potentially leading to paralysis or death.

While Pāua, crab, and crayfish can still be safely consumed if the gut is removed before cooking, New Zealand Food Safety emphasizes the importance of precautionary measures. No associated illnesses have been reported, and the agency continues to monitor the situation, pledging to inform the public of any developments.

In the Queen Charlotte Sound, a separate public health warning remains in effect due to heightened levels of Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxins, underlining the ongoing efforts by New Zealand Food Safety to ensure the safety of commercially harvested shellfish through rigorous monitoring programs. Consumers are advised to contact Healthline or seek medical attention if they experience symptoms after consuming shellfish from the affected areas and to preserve any remaining shellfish for potential testing.


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