Not safe to eat the shellfish
A public health warning has been issued for shellfish collected across much of the Taranaki coastline.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) issued a warning on Friday advising people to avoid eating shellfish gathered between Oa¯kura, north Taranaki, and Awakino.
Anyone who consumes kina, mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops and catseyes from the area risks becoming sick.
Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from the region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins above the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI.
The alert covers most of the north Taranaki coastline and includes popular gathering spots in New Plymouth, Waitara and Oa¯ kura.
PSP is a serious illness caused by eating shellfish contaminated with dinoflagellate algae that produce harmful toxins.
Cooking the shellfish does not remove the toxin.
Pa¯ 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, MPI said.
Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and three hours after eating and could include numbness and a tingling around the mouth, face, and hands and feet.
It could also cause difficulty swallowing or breathing, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.
Monitoring of toxin levels would continue.
Shellfish harvested for sale in shops and supermarkets, or exported, were subject to water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they were safe to eat.
MPI has advised if anyone becomes sick after eating shellfish from the affected area to phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or seek medical attention immediately.
It also said to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.
A health warning has been issued for people collecting shellfish across much of Taranaki’s coastline.