January 23, 2018

Californians Warned to Avoid Bivalve Shellfish From Two Areas

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is telling consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from two areas because the shellfish may have dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins. The regions are Monterey Bay and Inner Tomales Bay in Marin County.

Mussels

This warning is in addition to the annual mussel quarantine that was extended on October 31, 2013 for northern Humboldt County. That quarantine remains in effect.

This warning doesn’t apply to commercially harvested and sold clams, mussels, scallops, or oysters from approved harvest areas. State law allows only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell those foods. The shellfish are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for these and other toxins.

PSP toxins affect the nervous system. If you eat shellfish with this toxin, you will experience tingling around the mouth and fingertips that happens within a few minutes to a few hours. Then you will experience loss of balance, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. In severe cases, complete paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur.

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