New Zealand – Public health warning extended for shellfish on the West Coast, South Island – Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxins

MPI

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today issued an extension to the public health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from the South Island’s West Coast. The public health warning now extends from the Grey River mouth, north to the Ngakawau River mouth at Hector.

Tests on shellfish samples taken from Cape Foulwind have detected levels of Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxins above the safe limit of 0.16 mg/kg set by MPI.  Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

Ongoing testing will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly.

Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten.

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 within half an hour of ingestion and last for about 24 hours. Symptoms may include:

  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • abdominal cramps.

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued, freephone 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.

Commercially harvested shellfish – sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported – are subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat. There is no commercial harvesting of shellfish in the affected area.

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