Deadly toxins found in Scottish shellfish


WARNINGS have been issued after traces of deadly toxins were found in Scottish shellfish.

Evidence of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) was found by Fife Council during routine sampling of surf clams from Anstruther and Pittenweem.

If high levels of the toxins are ingested, paralysis of the muscles used for breathing can in extreme cases lead to death.

The fisheries have been temporarily closed with immediate effect.

Officials have put up warnings in the affected areas, and are taking steps to trace and destroy all batches which are thought to be contaminated.

The public are being warned to avoid surf clams and other shellfish species such as mussels as they are also likely to be affected.

Symptoms of PSP are usually noticeable within minutes of eating infected shellfish, and typically start with a tingling tongue and lips.

This can be followed by tingling fingers and toes, loss of control of arms and legs and most extremely people can experience difficulty breathing and swallowing.

If a significant amount of the toxin is consumed, paralysis of the muscles used for breathing can lead to death, if immediate medical attention is not sought.

Roy Stewart, from Fife council said: “The presence of PSP in shellfish occurs from time to time, particularly during the summer months. It is essential that until levels are safe, none of these shellfish are eaten.

“In accordance with Food Standards Agency advice we are putting up warning signs in the affected areas, advising local people and visitors of the warning that is in force.”

PSP is fairly rare on the east coast, with the vast majority of monitoring sites being in the west.

In 2009, commercial shellfish harvesting areas in Shetland were closed after a significant increase of phytoplankton species responsible of PSP were detected.


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