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Warning issued after ten fall ill with shellfish poisoning in the west

The Food Safety Authority is warning against eating shellfish found on the shoreline.

Image: File image: Cathal McNaughton/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE FOOD SAFETY Authority of Ireland is warning against harvesting and eating wild shellfish from the seashore on the west and south west coast after several people developed symptoms of poisoning.

In the past few weeks more than ten people in Galway, Mayo and Sligo have become ill with suspected symptoms.

The FSAI said that algal blooms which occur naturally along the west and south west coast of Ireland are causing the illness, while the Marine Institute has said that the blooms have “resulted in considerable mortalities of fish, shellfish and other coastal invertebrates”.

Locals and holidaymakers who are recreationally gathering shellfish in the region are being warned of the dangers of consuming shellfish found on the shoreline – mussels, oysters, scallops, cockles and clams are all affected.

Professor Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of the FSAI said:

Wild shellfish found along the west Coast may contain naturally occurring toxins which cannot be removed through cooking alone. Eating shellfish contaminated with these toxins can lead to people suffering nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
The effects are not life threatening but can be particularly severe for older people, young children and people who may already be ill from another medical condition.

The FSAI is advising that shellfish should only be purchased from reputable suppliers, who are subject to a national monitoring programme and weekly status reports.

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Commercial harvesting of shellfish is suspended in areas with high biotoxin levels.

According to the Marine Institute algal blooms has severely affected areas of the the north west from Mayo to Donegal, and along the rest of the west coast. Satellite imagery has shown a decrease in the concentration of the blooms, but it is still causing problems.

Fishermen have reported low catches and in some areas oyster farms have reported losses between 20 and 80 per cent.

June: “Massive cloud of suffocation” moving off west coast>

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Emer McLysaght

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