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Marine Biotoxin Warning Widens

Marine Biotoxin Warning Widens

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority and Ministry of Health wish to reinforce marine biotoxin warnings issued by several District Health Boards following further spread of a toxic algal bloom.

The public are advised not to collect or consume shellfish from the following parts of the Taranaki, Waikato and Auckland regions:

Ohawe Beach in Taranaki north to Kawhia (excluding Kawhia Harbour) in the Waikato. West coast beaches between the Manukau Harbour entrance north to the Kaipara Harbour entrance excluding both Manukau and Kaipara Harbours.

The Hawkes Bay and East Coast regions of the North Island also remain subject to a marine biotoxin warning, caused by the same toxic algae, Gymnodinium catenatum.

Routine testing of shellfish in these areas has shown higher than acceptable levels of paralytic shellfish poison (PSP). Anyone eating these toxic shellfish is potentially at risk of illness. Bivalve shellfish such as mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, toheroa, and scallops should not be eaten. Kina should not be eaten. Paua, crayfish and crabs can be eaten safely if the gut is removed before cooking. The gut should not be eaten.

No commercial shellfish harvesting areas have been affected.

Jim Sim, Principal Advisor (Shellfish) of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority says, “Ongoing testing indicates that this toxic algal bloom may continue to spread. In 2000, the west coast and much of the east coast of the North Island was affected for a number of months by this algae, with dangerously high toxin levels recorded.”

Symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning can occur within 12 hours of eating affected shellfish and can include: Numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities first. Difficulty swallowing, or breathing. Headache, dizziness, and double vision. Consumption of shellfish containing very high levels of PSP toxin can be fatal.

Due to an unrelated toxic algal bloom, part of the West Coast of the South Island remains subject to a marine biotoxin warning as well.

For more detailed information on marine biotoxin warnings see www.nzfsa.govt.nz

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