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article imageCentral California beaches closed to shellfish harvesting

By Karen Graham     Aug 21, 2016 in Food
The California Department of Public Health has issued a warning over the dangerously high levels of domoic acid, a marine toxin, found in rock crabs and certain bivalves along beaches in the central part of the state.
The advisory issued on Friday specifically targets rock crabs in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Bay, as well as bivalves, including mussels, clams and the internal organs of scallops.
Testing by public health officials found domoic acid ten times the “action level” in certain bivalves along the central coast, which is 30 parts per million, according to the agency.
Domoic acid is a naturally occurring potent neurotoxin produced by Harmful algae blooms (HAB). Bivalves and shellfish ingest the toxic algae as a food source. The toxins do not kill the shellfish nor cause any changes in the appearance, smell or taste of the shellfish that would alert consumers of the toxicity.
“The warning is effective for crabs and bivalve shellfish caught in state waters south of Latitude 37° 11′ N, near Pigeon Point, and north of Latitude 36° 35′ N, near Cypress Point in Monterey County," according to the advisory.
The warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources, according to Food Safety News. State law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins.
Domoic acid poisoning symptoms in humans can occur within 30 minutes and up to 24 hours after consumption of toxic seafood.
In mild cases, symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and dizziness.
In severe cases, the person may experience difficulty breathing, confusion cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.
The California Department of Public Health will continue to coordinate its efforts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the fishing community to collect rock crab samples from the central and northern California coast until the domoic acid levels have dissipated. Until that time, don't take a chance with your health.
More about central california, Shellfish, domoic acid, algae blooms, Harvesting
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