Watchdog warns of toxic wild shellfish along shore

Ireland’s food safety watchdog has issued a warning about the risk of food poisoning from eating wild shellfish found along the West coast.

More than 10 people in Galway, Mayo, and Sligo have become ill with suspected shellfish poisoning in recent weeks. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), suspects the poisoning is linked to harmful algal blooms occurring along the West and South-West coast.

FSAI chief executive Alan Reilly said residents and holiday makers might be unaware of the danger of consuming the shellfish they find along the shoreline.

“Wild shellfish found along the West coast may contain naturally occurring toxins that cannot be removed by cooking alone.

“Shellfish, like mussels and clams, are filter feeders and they will concentrate the algae in their flesh, making them toxic.”

He said eating contaminated shellfish could cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps.

“The effects are not life-threatening but can be particularly severe for older people, young children and people who may already be ill from another medical condition.”

The FSAI is advising people not to gather shellfish such as mussels, oysters, scallops, cockles, and clams themselves and says shellfish should only be bought from reputable suppliers.

Mr Reilly said commercial shellfish producers operated under a national monitoring programme that managed the risks.

The FSAI said the monitoring programme at marine.ie might be useful for gathering shellfish.

Anyone suffering from suspected shellfish poisoning is advised to contact their GP. People with food safety queries can contact the food safety advice line at 1890 336677 or visit www.fsai.ie


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