Don't eat the shellfish!

Published on Wed, Oct 2, 2013
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The paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) bio-toxin has been detected at unsafe levels in molluscan shellfish at all Whatcom County beaches. As a result, as of October 2, the Washington State Department of Health has issued an all-species recreational harvest closure for Whatcom County.

Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. Mussels usually contain the highest toxin concentration.

PSP and other naturally occurring bio-toxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Crab meat is not affected by PSP, but “crab butter” and crab entrails can harbor bio-toxins so they should be discarded.

Shellfish sold in restaurants and markets have been tested before distribution and are safe to eat.

Algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected by laboratory testing. Therefore, always check the DOH website at or call the DOH Bio-toxin Hotline at 800/562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington state.

PSP intoxication can be life threatening. Nine cases of PSP intoxication were reported in Washington state in 2012. Symptoms of PSP intoxication may appear within minutes or hours. 

PSP symptoms usually begin with tingling lips and tongue and may be followed by difficulty breathing and, potentially, death. 

If you experience these symptoms seek immediate medical attention. For extreme reactions call 911.