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Gutted Paua Safe To Eat - Tests Show

THE Ministry of Health is advising it is safe to eat gutted paua harvested from areas affected by Paralytic Shellfish Posioning.

Food Manager Jim Sim said tests of paua flesh did not detect any of the toxin.

"Previously we had been warning against eating paua, including gutted paua. There remains a possibility that paua gut may accumulate the toxin but testing has now shown paua flesh should be safe to eat," Mr Sim said.

The Ministry had previously advised that it was safe to eat crabs and crayfish from affected areas that had been gutted before cooking.

Kina, mussels, toheroa, pipis, tuatua, oysters and cockles in affected areas should still not be eaten, Mr Sim said.

ENDS

For further information check the frequently asked questions and answers on the Ministry's website; www.moh.govt.nz. The questions and background information are listed in the site's What's New section.

Or contact; Sue McCabe, Media Advisor, 04 496 2067 or 025 495 989

Background Information

THE toxicity in shellfish on the coast of the North Island is caused by a bloom of algae called Gymnodinium catenatum which has been known to cause toxicity in shellfish and illness in people.

The bloom was first identified at the mouth of the Manukau Harbour mouth in the first week on May. By June 20, toxicity and the bloom had increased. Warnings were issued advising people not to collect shellfish from the coastal areas between Raglan in the Waikato to Maunganui Bluff in Northland.

On the September 8, the bloom was found to have affected shellfish in the area between Cape Reinga in the North, to Wellington. The levels were not high enough on the greater Wellington coastline to warrant closure.

However, on September 15 the levels rose and the ban was extended to include the Kapiti Coast and the Wellington Coastline to Baring Head. The public was advised not to harvest nor consume shellfish taken from Cape Reinga to Baring Head.

Samples of water and shellfish flesh are being taken every week to check the movement of the bloom and the associated toxicity of shellfish.

Over the past three weeks, shellfish tests have shown that there is no active gymnodinium catenatum bloom in Kaipara Harbour and that shellfish there are either clear of toxins or have toxin levels with in safe health limits. People can now take shellfish from areas within the Kaipara Habour east of a line from Pouto to South Head.

The entrance to Kaipara Harbour is still closed, as is the coastline from Cape Reinga to Baring Head, including all harbours apart from Kaipara Harbour.

At this stage it is mostly bi-valve shellfish such as mussels, toheroa, pipis, tuatua, and cockles that are affected. Kina should also not be eaten. Care should be taken when eating paua, crab and crayfish from affected areas. People should ensure that the gut of paua, crab and crayfish are removed prior to cooking to avoid the gut and its contents contaminating the meat.

A comprehensive monitoring programme Is being carried out along the entire west coast of the North Island and regular sampling is occurring in other areas to take stock of any further drift south or east. The Ministry of Health will be updating its website as new information comes to hand.

New Zealand shellfish have been monitored for the presence of marine biotoxins since January 1993 when a widespread neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP) event occured, resulting in 186 suspected cases being reported.

Sue McCabe Media Advisor Communications DDI: 496 2067 Fax: 496 2010 mailto:sue_mccabe@moh.govt.nz Ministry of Health


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