New service to keep shellfish gatherers alert to shellfish toxin levels

By Rewi Heke

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released a new email notification service to warn shellfish gatherers about toxic levels in shellfish.

MPI spokesman Jim Sim says people need to heed the warnings because toxins from algae can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and sometimes paralysis or death when they build up in shellfish.

“It’s pretty high stakes. If you get it wrong, you could get very sick or even die,” says Sim.

Every week MPI collects water and shellfish around the country to test for the presence of toxins in algae. When safe levels are exceeded the Ministry and district health boards put up warning signs at affected areas.

Sim adds, “You cannot see, smell or taste the toxins, and cooking will not remove them, so it’s important to know if your area is affected.”

Mr Sim said people can now go to the webpage and sign up to get email alerts for toxin warnings. 

For more information you can visit the Ministry for Primary Industries website here.