FDA Issues Warning Certain Shellfish May Contain Toxin

Following an “unprecedented” epidemic of PSP poisoning, Oregon officials restricted mussel harvesting along the entire coastline in June. 

Two dozen individuals have been afflicted with paralytic shellfish poisoning since last month, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to restaurants, food dealers, and consumers to avoid sure mussels from Washington and Oregon due to suspicions that they may have been tainted with toxins.

Some areas of the coast also banned the gathering of oysters, razor clams, and bay clams. In a briefing at the time, Matthew Hunter, shellfish program manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, noted that elevated levels of toxins were initially found in shellfish on the state’s central and north coastlines on May 17.

Ingesting molluscan shellfish that have been infected with water-borne natural poisons can cause disease. Those poisons are produced mainly by algae that grow in the ocean. As the shellfish ingest the algae, the poisons build up in their flesh.

The Food and Drug Administration reports that some species eliminate pollutants at a considerably faster rate than others.

The FDA has issued a warning that food containing these poisons may appear, smell, and taste usually. Cooking or freezing won’t get rid of them.

Any consumer who uses these goods and then develops any kind of ailment should see a doctor as soon as possible and notify the local health department as well.

About half an hour after eating, people may start to experience tingling in their lips, mouth, and tongue, respiratory paralysis, and numbness in their limbs.

Officials from Oregon’s Department of Agriculture have also banned commercial oyster harvesting in the northern Oregon bays of Netarts and Tillamook.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture will continue testing for shellfish poisons at least twice a month when weather and tides allow. The government states that in order to reopen a biotoxin-contaminated region, two consecutive tests must demonstrate that the contaminants’ levels are below a certain threshold.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the shellfish business employs over 3,200 people and contributes $270 million to the regional economy annually.