Poison alert issued for some mussels harvested for Fanny Bay Oysters
Mussels harvested by Fanny Bay Oysters from the Okever Inlet near Powell River between Oct. 2 and 14 might contain Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), also known as red tide, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The raw mussels were mostly distributed to wholesalers and restaurants in Western Canada, though some might have been sold at retail seafood counters, and in other provinces. A voluntary recall is in effect.
"It is unusual for us to have a red tide this time of year," said Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association. "The process remains very, very stable whereby the product is recalled almost never. Usually we see numbers changing prior to there being any issue."
No one became sick from these mussels, Stevenson added.
"I'm not downplaying it but it's probably because the numbers are very low — high enough that the product should be recalled but not high enough to get anyone sick. There's this huge cautionary margin built," she said, noting the recall was voluntary by the processors.
Red Tide is a natural toxin that can accumulate year-round in bivalve shellfish.
"The numbers come up slowly and we watch them," Stevenson said. "If we do think we're going to get one then we'll stop selling...There's a huge precautionary measure in there.
"It's sad because these growers don't like to have these shutdowns, but they don't last much more than three weeks," she added.
Consumers who purchased raw mussels are asked to check with their retailer or supplier to see if their purchase is covered by the recall.
Symptoms of PSP include tingling and numbness of the lips, tongue, hands and feet, and difficulty swallowing. Severe cases can progress to walking difficulties, muscle or respiratory paralysis, and death in as few as 12 hours.