(Food Safety) Due to “dangerous levels” of domoic acid found in some species, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab taken from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
Department officials are working with commercial fisherman in the area to ensure that recently harvested anchovy and sardines were not distributed into the human food supply.
Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in some of these species and are also likely to be present in the other species, CDPH stated. Molluscan bivalve shellfish, anchovy and sardines are especially of concern because the toxin resides in their digestive tract and these seafood products are normally not eviscerated prior to consumption.
CDPH stated that the agency is continuing to collect a variety of molluscan bivalve shellfish, fin fish and crab samples from the area to monitor the level of domoic acid. There have been no reported illnesses associated with this event, the department added.
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, CDPH stated.
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, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory (a condition known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma or death.
For updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at (800) 553-4133. For additional information about natural marine toxins, go here.