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Update: Consumers Warned About Toxins in Fish, Crab From Two CA Counties

(April 29 update: This warning has been expanded to include crab.)

The California Department of Public Health is advising consumers not to eat the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught anchovy, sardines, or crab taken from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

According to CDPH, dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in some of these species and could be present in others. The concern is that the toxin resides in the digestive tracks of anchovies and sardines, but these fish are not usually gutted before they’re eaten.

CDPH continues to collect bivalve shellfish, fin fish and crab samples from the area to monitor the level of domoic acid in seafood.

The health advisory is in addition to the April 4 warning not to eat recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish (such as mussels, clams or whole scallops) from Monterey or Santa Cruz counties due to dangerous levels of domoic acid in mussel samples.

But that 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.

CDPH continues to collect bivalve shellfish, fin fish and crab samples from the area to monitor the level of domoic acid in seafood. There have no reported illnesses associated with this event.

Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

If you ate any of the affected product(s) and experienced illness as a result, please contact your healthcare provider and/or notify your local health department so tests can be conducted on either food or human samples and results can be reported to the appropriate public health agencies.

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