Public Health Warning

Public Health Warning

Marine biotoxin found in Whakatane Heads to Opotiki shellfish

Industries (MPI) today issued a public health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from the coastline between the Whakatane Heads and the Waioeka River mouth in Opotiki. The warning also includes the Ohiwa Harbour.

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins have risen over the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI. Anyone eating shellfish (mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina and all other bivalve shellfish) from this area is potentially at risk of illness. Note: cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

P?ua, 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 of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning 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
  • dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Paralysis and respiratory failure and, in severe cases, even 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 611 116 or seek medical attention immediately. You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.

The monitoring of toxin levels will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly. 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. 


18 March 2017

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