Myths About Red Tide

Question:

Are months with an "r" safe for eating shellfish?

Answer: No

No. The organism that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning can occur in any month. Although it is more common in the summer months, the toxin can remain in some tissues of the bivalve shellfish for a long time. Only scientific testing can determine if the shellfish are free of PSP.

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Question:

If the water where I am harvesting is not red or discoloured, is the shellfish OK to eat?

Answer:

The organism that causes PSP may not cause the water to change appearance. In addition, the bivalve shellfish may remain toxic long after the algae bloom occurs.

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Question:

Can I test for PSP in shellfish by chewing a small piece of shellfish to see if I feel tingling in my lips?

Answer:

The nerve toxin in PSP reacts differently in the acid conditions of your stomach than in your mouth. Chewing on a piece of shellfish is not a good indicator of the safety of the shellfish.

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Question:

If I cook the shellfish will this destroy the PSP toxins and make the shellfish safe to eat?

Answer: No

No, PSP toxins cannot be destroyed by cooking. Even when pressure cooked for 15 minutes, PSP remains toxic.

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Question:

Would I have to eat a lot of shellfish to get sick or die from PSP?

Answer:

It doesn’t take much PSP toxin to kill you; just 738 micrograms can kill the average person. That’s equal in volume to 10 grains of table salt!

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