September 18, 2020

Consumers Warned About Consuming Bivalve Shellfish in California

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from Marin County. Dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins have been found in mussels in this region. These naturally occurring toxins can cause illness or death. Cooking does not destroy this toxin.

Oysters This warning is in addition to the annual mussel quarantine that was extended on October 31, 2012 for Del Norte and Humboldt counties. That quarantine is still in effect.

Commercially harvested and sold clams, mussels, scallops and oysters are safe to eat, as long as the sources are approved. Only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters and dealers can sell these products, which are subject to frequent testing by the state.

PSP toxins produce a tingling around the mouth and fingertips a few minutes or a few hours after consuming affected shellfish. Other symptoms follow quickly, including lack of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. Complete paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur within 30 minutes. For more information, call CDPH at 800-553-4133.

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