Shellfish biotoxin alert – Pelorus Sound and the Hawke's Bay/Gisborne region

Date:

Media contact: MPI media team

Telephone: 029 894 0328

Email: media@mpi.govt.nz

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today extended both of the public health warnings for collecting shellfish in the Pelorus Sound and the Hawke's Bay/Gisborne region.

For the Pelorus Sound, the affected area now extends to the outer heads of the sound from Paparoa to Culdaff Point at the northern tip of Forsyth Island.

For the Hawke's Bay warning, the warning now extends from Porangahau northward to the north end of Tolaga Bay.

A warning remains in place for the Bay of Islands.

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this 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.

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 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

Some signs have also been posted in the affected areas.

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