The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) issued a public health warning yesterday against collecting shellfish in the Bay of Plenty/Waikato region from Te Ororoa Point, just north of Tairua, down to Bowentown Heads but not including Tauranga Harbour. Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins have been detected at levels above the safe limit set by MPI.
Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish.
Note, cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.
Pāua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.
Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include:
- numbness and tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet)
- difficulty swallowing or breathing
- a headache
- paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.
What to do if you become ill
If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued, phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or seek medical attention immediately. You are also advised to contact your 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. Commercially harvested shellfish – sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported – is subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat.
Find out more
- Check shellfish biotoxin alerts
- Food Safety for Seafood Gatherers booklet
- Causes and symptoms of toxic shellfish poisoning
- Toxic algal blooms
- Collecting Shellfish and Keeping Them Safe
A warning also remains in place for the Northland coastline from North Cape (Outo) down to Cape Karikari (Whakapouaka).