Latest News & Public Notices

Shellfish biotoxin alert – Bay of Plenty and Waikato region

24 January 2019

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) issued a public health warning yesterday advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from the Bay of Plenty/Waikato region.

Map of affected area

Map of affected area: Bay of Plenty and Waikato region from Te Ororoa Point, just north of Tairua, down to Bowentown Heads but not including Tauranga Harbour.

Shellfish biotoxin alerts and updates can be found here.

Signs will also be placed in the affected areas from Te Ororoa Point, just north of Tairua, down to Bowentown Heads but not including Tauranga Harbour. 

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins above the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI. Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten. Please note cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Pāua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and three hours after ingestion and may include:

  • numbness and tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet)
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • dizziness
  • a headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued, phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or seek medical attention immediately. You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly. Commercially harvested shellfish – sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported – is subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat.