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Consumers Warned Not to Eat Sport-Harvested Bivalve Shellfish from Four California Counties

Date: July 1, 2020
Number: SN20-002
Contact: CDPHpress@cdph.ca.gov | CDPH Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Program


SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising consumers not to eat sport-harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties. 

Dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins have been detected in mussels from those four counties. The naturally occurring PSP toxins can cause illness or death in humans. Cooking does not destroy the toxin. 

PSP toxins affect the central nervous system, producing a tingling around the mouth and fingertips within a few minutes to a few hours after eating toxic shellfish. These symptoms are typically followed by loss of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. In severe poisonings, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur. 

This warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. 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.

You can get the most current information on shellfish advisories and quarantines by calling CDPH’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133. For additional information, please visit the CDPH Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Web page

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