Toxic shellfish warning revised

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The ban on collecting shellfish has been lifted in some places of the Bay. Photo/file
The ban on collecting shellfish has been lifted in some places of the Bay. Photo/file

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has lifted the warning to not collect shellfish in the Bay of Plenty from Whangamata to Bowentown and between Maketu and Whakatane Heads. This warning was in place due to Paralytic Shellfish Toxins in shellfish in the Bay of Plenty region.

The warning remains in force from the northern tip of Matakana Island, southwards to Okurei Point at Maketu. The affected area includes Tauranga Harbour, Maketu estuaries, Matakana and Motiti Islands. The estuary area north of Ongare Point and the northern tip of Matakana Island is not included in this warning.

For the affected area, Paralytic Shellfish toxins are still at levels of concern. Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten. 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 three 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
•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.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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