October 17, 2018

California Updates Warning About Domoic Acid in Shellfish

The warning issued by the California Department of Public Health about domoic acid in anchovies and sardines has been updated. The government is warning consumers to avoid eating the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught anchovy, sardines, or crab from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

crabThis warning is in addition to the April 4, 2014 warning about not eating recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish from those counties and the April 10 warning. CDPH is collecting sample of bivalve shellfish, fin fish, and crab from the areas to monitor the level of domoic acid. There have been no illnesses reported in association with this warning.

The warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops, or oysters from approved sources. Those shellfish are subject to frequently mandatory testing to monitor for toxins. Domoic acid is a biotoxin produced by phytoplankton called diatoms. It accumulates in shellfish but does not harm those animals. It was discovered in California in 1991.

The symptoms of domoic acid poisoning occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating contaminated seafood. Mild cases may include symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, headache, and dizziness. In severe cases, patients can have trouble breathing, confusion, seizures, cardiac instability, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma, or death.

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