People are being reminded not to collect shellfish from anywhere along the coast from Te Awanga to Bay View after harmful viruses and bacteria have been found in wild mussels tested as part of post-cyclone monitoring.
This is despite New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) partially lifting its advisory to the public not to collect or consume shellfish gathered from parts of the East Coast of the North Island due the presence of paralytic shellfish toxins. NZFS’s warning remains in place for the area from Cape Runaway down to Wairoa River mouth.
Dr Emily Frost, Napier City Council’s Environmental Solutions Manager, explains there are currently risks with eating shellfish from Hawke Bay.
“This extends to animals eaten raw, such as kina, and only applies to recreationally gathered shellfish, not mussels available for sale in retail outlets,” she says. “Finned fish are considered low risk if there are adequate food safety precautions such as removing the gut then cooking the fish.”
Napier City Council and Hastings District Council, in conjunction with New Zealand Food Safety and Te Whatu Ora, have been testing shellfish in this area for viruses and bacteria as part of the post-cyclone monitoring. Further testing will be carried out over the coming weeks.
Signs have been placed in affected areas and communities are being warned that eating shellfish collected from the area could cause serious illness.
Te Whatu Ora Medical Officer of Health Dr Bridget Wilson says the symptoms of norovirus and salmonella are similar and include vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, stomach cramps, chills and nausea. Anyone who develops illness after consuming shellfish should phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16.