FDA Warns Against Consuming Shellfish from Oregon and Washington Due to Health Risks

The FDA recently cautioned against consuming oysters, bay clams, and other shellfish harvested in Washington and Oregon due to the potential for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which can be fatal. Here are the key points you need to be aware of:

Affected Shellfish and Areas:

  • Oysters and bay clams harvested from Netarts Bay and Tillamook Bay, Oregon, on or after May 28, 2024.
  • All shellfish species from growing areas in Willapa Bay, WA, including Stony Point (harvested between May 26 and May 30, 2024), Bay Center (harvested between May 29 and May 30, 2024), and Bruceport (harvested between May 29 and May 30, 2024).

States Where Affected Shellfish May Have Been Sold:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington

If you reside in these states and have purchased shellfish recently, verify if it originated from Oregon or Washington. If so, the FDA advises refraining from consumption and urges restaurants and retailers not to sell them.

Symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP):

  • Symptoms typically manifest within 30 to 60 minutes after consuming the shellfish.
  • Common symptoms include tingling and numbness of the lips, tongue, face, arms, and legs.
  • Severe cases may involve gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting, as well as neurological symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, weakness, or a sensation of floating.
  • In extreme instances, individuals may experience difficulty walking or swallowing, and PSP can be fatal if it affects the breathing muscles. Immediate medical attention is crucial if any of these symptoms occur.

Causes of Shellfish Toxicity:

  • PSP is caused by toxins produced by dinoflagellates, microscopic organisms that clams, oysters, and other sea creatures consume.
  • Toxic algal blooms can lead to elevated levels of these toxins in shellfish.
  • The current FDA warning was prompted by the detection of high levels of PSP-causing toxins in shellfish samples from the specified areas and dates.

Precautionary Measures:

  • Toxicity cannot be discerned based on appearance, and neither cooking nor freezing eliminates the toxins.
  • Individuals who gather their own seafood should consult maps and advisories to determine if harmful algal blooms are present in their area.

Stay vigilant and prioritize your health by heeding these warnings and taking appropriate precautions when consuming shellfish from affected regions.

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