The Ministry for Primary Industires has issued a public health warning not to collect or consume shellfish from a point north of Auckland as they may contain high levels of toxins.
People are being advised to avoid shellfish harvested from the southern point at the entrance of Mahurangi Harbour, called Cudlip Point, down to Toroa Point, just south of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
Tests on samples from this region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxins of up to 1mg per kg.
The safe limit set by MPI is 0.8mg per kg.
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.
Cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.
Paua, 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.
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.