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Home > Latest News > Media Releases > Media Releases 2012 > August 2012 > Shellfish toxin warning lifted

Shellfish toxin warning lifted

Thursday, 2 August 2012 4:00 p.m.

The paralytic shellfish toxin health warning, which has been in place since December last year, has been lifted for the wider Coromandel and Bay of Plenty coastline.  The area for which the health warning is lifted includes the entire coastline from Tairua (including Tairua Harbour), east along the Bay of Plenty coastline, including Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Waihi estuaries, to Whakatane Heads.  Also included are Matakana and Motiti islands, and all other inshore islands along this coastline.

Routine sampling indicates that the levels of shellfish toxin are now within safe limits for the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty coastline.

"We know the shellfish warning has been an inconvenience, and we would like to thank the public for their endurance and co-operation," says Dr Phil Shoemack, Medical Officer of Health.

Although paralytic shellfish toxin is no longer a concern when shellfish gathering, Dr Shoemack wishes to remind people to exercise caution when deciding where to gather shellfish and when preparing shellfish for consumption.

Non-commercial shellfish collected from the sea and harbours are a high risk food because they tend to accumulate and concentrate in their flesh any contaminants found in the water.  Bivalve shellfish (those with two shells) filter food particles from the seawater and so, for example, can accumulate viruses and bacteria from sewage overflows and farm run-off, toxins from naturally occurring algae, and chemical contaminants such as heavy metals from urban storm water run-off.  

When shellfish are eaten raw or lightly cooked, bacteria and viruses won't be killed.  The most effective way to ensure you don't get sick from eating shellfish is to buy them from the shop or collect them from areas where the seawater is clean and less likely to be contaminated in any way.  It is generally not advisable to collect and eat shellfish from beaches and harbours next to built up urban areas.  Proper handling, storage and cooking can further lower the risk of illness; visit the Food Safety website for more information - www.foodsafety.govt.nz

For advice on health warnings regarding shellfish collecting, contact your local Health Protection Officer on 0800 221 555 then select option 7 or visit our website www.toiteorapublichealth.govt.nz/health_warnings

Ends

For more information or comment:

For Bay of Plenty:
Dr Phil Shoemack
Medical Officer of Health
Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service
Ph: 07 577 3770
Mob: 021 228 5534

For Waikato/Coromandel
Health Protection Officer
Population Health
Phone:  07 838 2569

After hours:
On call Health Protection Officer
Phone:  021 999 521