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Farmed mussels. (Photo: Food Standards Australia New Zealand, FSANZ)

Mussels contaminated with shellfish toxin

  (AUSTRALIA, 11/6/2012)

The government has issued a public health alert warning against eating farmed mussels from the Spring Bay area on Tasmania’s east coast, following the detection of unsafe levels of a paralytic shellfish toxin.

Director of Public Health Dr Roscoe Taylor said the presence of the toxin is due to a naturally-occurring algal bloom and has forced the closure of Spring Bay Seafoods’ shellfish farm. The business is recalling its mussels from the market to protect consumers.

As this type of naturally occurring algal bloom was not previously known to have contaminated Tasmanian shellfish, Spring Bay Seafoods is hoping to seek compensation for its suspended operations since late last week.

"Obviously your customers are thought of first and so ensuring there's just no potential is what the recall's all about," Spring Bay's Managing Director Phillip Lamb said, ABC News reports. "We're still counting the cost and getting the recovering of volumes that are out there but we're not talking sheep stations."

When operations will resume remains unclear.

In addition, shellfish farms in Little Swanport, Georges Bay and Ansons Bay, where low levels of the algae have been detected, have been shut down as a precaution until results are obtained from further water and shellfish testing.

The Great Oyster Bay and Great Swanport growing areas have also been closed.

“I strongly stress people should not harvest or eat any wild shellfish from these affected areas as it could result in potentially fatal paralytic shellfish poisoning,” Taylor warned. “No reports have been received of mussel or other shellfish-related illness, but high levels of paralytic shellfish toxins can be fatal in extreme cases and children are more susceptible than adults.”

He added that poisoning symptoms included tingling in the mouth and extremities, pins and needles, unsteadiness on the feet, weakness of the arms or legs and nausea.

“Anyone experiencing these symptoms after eating seafood from or near the affected area should seek immediate medical attention,” he advised.

Taylor noted that cooking or freezing does not destroy the toxin.

It will probably take some weeks for the bloom to clear and further testing to take place before affected areas re-open for fishing.

Tasmanian Deputy Premier Bryan Green said the ban was "devastating" for Spring Bay Seafoods.

"Tasmania has an excellent reputation for high-quality, safe shellfish and it is hoped this is a short-term event and will have no lasting impacts," he said, The Australian reports.

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


Information of the company:
Address: PO Box 50
City: Triabunna
State/ZIP: Tasmania (7190)
Country: Australia
Phone: +61 3 6257 3614
Fax: +61 3 6257 3616
E-Mail: [email protected]
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