December 9, 2016

Parts of Maine’s Coastline Closed to Shellfish Harvesting

Parts of Maine's coastline are being closed by the State of Maine Department of Marine Resources to certain types of shellfish harvesting because tests showed the sea creatures may contain domoic acid toxin at dangerous levels. Two notices have been posted on the Maine web site: one for Area No. 64-A and the other for Area No. 64-B. In addition to this closure, clams and mussels recently harvested from those areas should not be eaten. Domoic acid is a biotoxin produced by a plankton, or naturally occurring algae, called diatoms. The toxin accumulates in shellfish flesh but does not hurt those animals. Excessive levels of this toxin can cause serious illness and even death in humans. The illness caused by this toxin is called amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP). The notice for 64-A … [Read more...]

Washington Shellfish Recalled After Norovirus Outbreak

According to the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC), Washington state has issued a recall of shellfish after a norovirus-like outbreak occurred after an event. The Washington State Department of Health has also issued a notice. At least six people were sickened in this Oregon outbreak; two cases have been confirmed as Norovirus. The event had 100 attendees; about half ate oysters harvested from Hook Canal 5 and Hammersley Inlet in Mason County. Oysters are not definitively linked to the outbreak, since only 10% of the attendees of the event were interviewed, hand-washing facilities were not adequate so an ill employee could have contaminated foods, and the event was crowded so person-to-person transmission could have occurred. But, the Washington State Department of … [Read more...]

Shellfish Irradiation To Reduce Food Poisoning Gets FDA Nod

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of ionizing radiation to kill foodborne pathogens on crustacean shellfish and extend their shelf life. The April 11 decision is in response to a food additive petition submitted by the National Fisheries Institute 13 years ago. The decision will allow processors of crustaceans including crab, shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and prawns use small amounts of ionizing radiation to reduce, but not eliminate, dangerous foodborne bacteria such as E.coli, Vibrio and Listeria.  The maximum permitted dose is 6.0 kiloGray. The rule covers shellfish sold raw, frozen, shelled, dried, cooked and partially cooked. It also covers crustaceans processed with spices or a small number of other ingredients. Irradiation has been approved for use on … [Read more...]

Sport-Harvested Shellfish Warning in Monterey, Santa Cruz CA

The California Department of Public Health has issued a warning for shellfish recreationally harvested in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties because they may contain a toxin called domoic acid, which causes Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) that can lead to severe illness or death. The warning does not apply to commercial shellfish which are subject to frequent mandatory tests for toxins. No illnesses have been reported, but dangerous levels of toxins have been detected in the waters of these regions. The illness is now called domoic acid poisoning, since the toxin has also been found in fin fish. Symptoms of poisoning from domoic acid appear between 30 minutes and 24 hours of ingestion and can last several days. They include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and … [Read more...]

In a Twist, China Bans U.S. Shellfish

We're used to hearing about how food from China is banned from entering the U.S., or that consumer and food safety groups oppose measures to bring food from that country here. But now China has turned the tables by banning all imports of West coast shellfish from its borders. The issue is paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins and arsenic found in geoduck clams harvested in Renton, Washington and Ketchikan in Alaska. No shellfish harvested on the entire West coast will be exported to China for the foreseeable future. The ban applies to clams, oysters, geoducks, and all bivalve shellfish harvested off Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and northern California. The health departments of those states routinely test for PSP and arsenic, as well as other parasites and bacteria. Officials with the … [Read more...]

Vibrio Infections in King County Washington Double

The Seattle and King County Health Department is warning consumers of the dangers of eating raw or undercooked shellfish. The cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections in that area have doubled from the yearly average of 4 to 8, just in the month of August. There have been 13 confirmed or probably cases since July 1, 2013. Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease for Public Health said in a statement, "this is probably the tip of the iceberg. For every case that is reported, an estimated 142 additional cases go unreported." The bacteria occur naturally in ocean waters and grow more rapidly during the summer months. People with pre-existing medical conditions and those who take antacids regularly are at higher risk for illness. The symptoms of a Vibrio infection include … [Read more...]

Washington Closes Shellfish Harvesting Areas

Shellfish harvesting areas near public beaches in Washington state have been closed to recreational and sport harvest due to the dangers of fecal contamination and marine biotoxins. Commercial harvesting may also be restricted based on selective testing, according to state health authorities. In addition, some areas have been listed as “threatened” meaning they are reaching the cut-off limit of what is acceptable in terms of water pollution. “If water quality in the threatened shellfish areas gets worse we’ll have to restrict or close harvesting there,” Bob Woolrich, Growing Area Section Manager said in a statement. “Having an area listed as ‘threatened’ is a signal to communities to identify and correct pollution problems.” In some areas pollution-mitigation efforts are underway. … [Read more...]

Warning: California Department of Health Says Not to Eat Shellfish from Del Norte County California

The warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops, or oysters from approved sources. These shellfish are subject to frequent mandatory testing by the state government. PSP toxins affect the central nervous system, producing a tingling around the mouth and fingertips. Then, symptoms include a loss of balance, loss of muscular coordination, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms can appear within a few minutes to a few hours after eating the toxic shellfish. In some cases, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur. Cooking does not destroy the toxin. For more information, see the CDPH Marine Biotoxins Frequently Asked Questions page. … [Read more...]

California Warns Consumers to Avoid Seafood Harvested in Northern Channel Islands

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers to not eat recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab and lobster from the northern Channel Islands. The Islands are offshore of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Dangerous levels of the nerve toxin domoic acid have been detected in some of those species. The toxin may also be present in other species of shellfish, crustaceans, and fish in that area. Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin that can cause illness or death in human beings. Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning usually occur with 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating contaminated seafood. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, … [Read more...]

Vibrio in Shellfish Sicken 30 in Washington State

According to the Washington State Department of Health, Vibrio in shellfish have caused 30 confirmed illnesses in Washington this summer. The presence of the bacteria has closed three commercial growing areas, including Totten Inlet near Olympic, North Bay, and Dabob Bay in north Hood Canal for the rest of the summer. Vibriosis, the illness caused by the bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus, is caused by eating raw or undercooked oysters. Despite the typical recommendation of cooking shellfish until they open, that is not enough to destroy Vibrio. To be safe, shellfish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for 15 seconds. In addition, rinsing cooked oysters in seawater can re-contaminate them. And, some pathogens can't be "cooked out" of shellfish. Some biotoxins can … [Read more...]

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