Category Archives: Algal Toxin

New Zealand – Updated – Shellfish biotoxin alert issued for parts of Bay of Islands

Map of Cape Wiwiki to Cape Brett shellfish warning.


The Ministry for Primary Industries today issued a public health warning against collecting shellfish in the Bay of Islands, extending to the outer heads between Cape Wiwiki and Cape Brett.

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from the Bay of Islands region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins above the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI. Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

MPI also strongly advises the public against collecting shellfish in the Hawke’s Bay region due to concerning levels of toxins being detected in shellfish. A warning is also in place for the Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds.

Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, cat’s eyes, 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 between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include:

  • numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet)
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.

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

Signs will be erected in the affected areas.

RASFF Alert – Marine Biotoxin – Live Scallops

kswfoodworld food safety poisoning

RASFF-possible presence of marine biotoxins in live scallops (Pecten maximus) from Norway in Norway

RASFF Alert – Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins in chilled live mussles

kswfoodworld food safety poisoning

RASFF-Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins (1178 µg/kg – ppb) in chilled live mussles (Mytilus edilus) from Norway

Research – Marine Toxins: 5 Poisons Under the Sea


Marine toxins originate from microorganisms native to aquatic ecosystems. These molecules eventually find their way into the human gastrointestinal tract through concentrating and bioaccumulating in species such as mollusks, crustaceans, and various fish. Ingestion of marine toxins can generate foodborne illnesses and a constellation of neurologic and gastrointestinal manifestations accompanied by other symptoms.


Ciguatera illness is caused by ciguatoxins, which are compounds that bioaccumulate in shallow, coastal water-dwelling fish.


Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is a foodborne illness brought on by saxitoxin, a chemical compound produced by cyanobacteria of freshwater and by dinoflagellates of marine water. As with ciguatoxin, saxitoxin reaches the human gastrointestinal tract through concentration in species that are higher up in the food chain.


Also a result of toxic algal blooms and mollusk consumption, neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP) is thought of as a ‘milder’ case of the paralytic shellfish poisoning described above. Its cause is brevetoxin, a group of more than 10 lipid soluble polyether compounds.


Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is perhaps the most well known of the marine toxins. Its notoriety arises from the popularity of pufferfish.


A red herring in the recognition of fish food poisoning is scombroid syndrome. This illness is commonly mistaken for fish allergy, but instead results from improper storage and transportation of fish belonging to the Scombroidiae family.

RASFF Alert – DSP – Risotto with Mussels – Histamine – Tuna – Sardines


RASFF -Diarrhoeic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins – okadaic acid (190.8 µg/kg – ppb) in risotto with mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) from Spain in Italy

RASFF -histamine (721 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen yellowfin tuna bits (Thunnus albacares) from India in Italy

RASFF -histamine (470 mg/kg – ppm) in canned sardines in soja oil (Sardinella spp.) from Indonesia in Germany

RASFF Alerts – DSP – Histamine


RASFF -Diarrhoeic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins – okadaic acid (176 µg/kg – ppb) in live mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) from Spain in Italy

RASFF -histamine (up to 1022 mg/kg – ppm) in chilled tuna fillets from Spain in Italy

RASFF Alerts – DSP – Mussels – Hepatitis A- Frozen Berries – E.coli – Clams – Mussels

RASFF -Diarrhoeic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins – okadaic acid (188 µg/kg – ppb) in chilled mussels (Mytlius Galloprovincialis) from Spain in Italy

RASFF -hepatitis A virus in frozen mixed berries processed in Italy, with raw material from Poland, Serbia, Chile, Bulgaria, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Italy

RASFF -high count of Escherichia coli (5400 MPN/100g) in clams (Venus verrucosa) from Greece in Italy

RASFF -too high count of Escherichia coli (3500 MPN/100g) in chilled mussels from France

RASFF -too high count of Escherichia coli (9200; 2400 MPN/100g) in chilled mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) from Spain in Italy