NZ mussels at centre of food poisoning outbreak

Seafood lovers have been warned to be careful with raw mussels after an outbreak of food poisoning.

New Zealand Food Safety announced on Friday it’s seen an uptick in the number of people contracting food poisoning from Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

Most of the people who got sick ate commercial grown mussels harvested in Coromandel.

“It is possible that the strain of vibrio parahaemolyticus is unusually aggressive, which may mean that even low numbers could cause illness,” NZ food safety director of regulation Paul Dansted said.

“Additional testing of mussels and the waters that they are being grown in is also underway to help us understand why this has happened.

“The mussels at the centre of the outbreak were all bought in their raw state, in the shell. They are not the mussels that can be bought in plastic pottles. Those mussels are cooked and marinated and are not affected.”

NZ Food Safety says people need to be careful when cooking mussels and heat them above 65C. It’s also advised to wash hands after handling shellfish, and avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked shellfish.

39 sick with Norovirus from frozen mussels in Spain

The appropriately named Olive Press has reported 39 people have become infected by norovirus after eating contaminated frozen mussels.

The outbreak  occured in Valencia, but the infected batch had already been distributed to Andalucia, the Balearic Islands and nine other regions.

The Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition has issued a warning to anyone who has bought frozen mussels from the batch to throw them away immediately.

The product is frozen cooked mussels from Galicia, called Mejillón media concha súper, under the Estrella Polar brand.

Any packaging containing the lot number 010DOP-18 should be thrown out.

The European Competent Authorities have also been informed through the Rapid Alert System for Food (RASFF).

Bringing mussels to a hospital patient isn’t a good idea

A couple of weeks ago I had a what I thought was the start of a noro nightmare: one of the 9 year-old hockey players I coach told me his stomach wasn’t feeling great. He asked to sit a shift. As I went over to check on him a couple of minutes later, he tilted his head forward and yacked through his mask on the bench. I was in the splash area, forget within the aerosolization zone.

I was lucky. No puking for me.

Norovirus is often linked to events like this, an ill food handler, or a couple of food types: shellfish or berries.

According to the Dunbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter, a couple of these sources got mixed as someone brought mussles into a hospital for a patient and the bivalves led to a bunch of other illnesses.

An outbreak of the winter vomiting bug which forced hospital bosses to ban visitors from wards was caused by someone bringing mussels in for a patient, it has emerged.

Officials have traced its spread to a visitor bringing in mussels for an inpatient at Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington, Northumberland.

It is thought to have affected at least 180 people.

The trust said it was working hard to allow visitors in to see patients over Christmas.

Bringing in food that can cause illness in a loved one is kinda dumb. That loved one causing 180 people to get sick, is even worse.

Who steals mussels? People in NZ

MPI Fisheries-Northland reports on facebook that yesterday a member of the public reported a group taking too many mussels from the Whangarei Heads area.

mussel.theftFishery Officers responded to the call and met the men as they came ashore with their vessel. The group had a total of 2,683 mussels between three of them.

The trio were directed to our Whangarei office for the purpose of a formal interview, however the men had other ideas. They decided to take a detour and not go to the office as directed, they will now face not only serious Fisheries Act charges for the shellfish but also for obstructing Fishery Officers.

Blatant offending of this nature will not be tolerated, the men could face charges of up to $250,000 as well as forfeiture of their vehicle, vessel and trailer (all of which was confiscated at the time).

Reminder: the daily limit for green lipped mussels in the Northland area is 50 per gatherer.

And I’ve gone with this version of the video because the lyrics are so beautiful.


Recall of fresh mussels in Ireland: due to presence of DSP (diarrhetic shellfish poisoning)

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is advising consumers of a food recall of fresh mussels supplied from Wednesday of this week to some retail stores throughout Ireland.  The mussels were harvested from Roaringwater Bay, Co. Cork on Monday and Tuesday of this week and may contain harmful levels of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) toxins.  These mussels were sold loose and in bags at fresh fish counters in some retail outlets nationwide.  The FSAI is warning consumers who may have the product at home not to eat the affected mussels. The implicated mussels have now been removed from sale.

Symptoms of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain which can start between 30 minutes to a few hours after ingestion. Complete recovery occurs within a number of days.

The FSAI is warning consumers who may have the mussels to check with the store where they purchased them and not to eat them if they are implicated in this recall.

Food safety inspectors shut down Netherlands mussel trader

Food safety inspectors have stopped a shellfish trader in Zeeland from exporting 47 tonnes of mussels after it failed to take action over two food poisoning incidents in England and Switzerland.

A small quantity of the mussels, which were exported to Ireland, are also being recalled, mussels-500the food safety body NVWA says.

In November, the same company was at the centre of another recall after several people became ill in England after eating mussels containing biotoxins, a poison common in shellfish. Those mussels came from Ireland but had been sold by the Dutch company.

The company was aware of the problem but did not register it with the authorities in time, food safety inspectors say. In December there was a second incident involving mussels in Switzerland. 
Those mussels, said at the time to be of Danish origin, turned out to be from the same Irish consignment as in the English food poisoning case.

Food inspectors have now effectively closed down the trader pending a full investigation and possible criminal charges.

Spring Bay Seafoods Mussels recalled for biotoxin contamination

Damn, these are the only decent mussels I can get in Australia, farmed in Tasmania.

Spring Bay Seafoods Pty Ltd has recalled four blue mussels products from Coles and other retail outlets in VIC, QLD, NSW, TAS, SA, ACT due to naturally occurring marine biotoxin Paralytic Shellfish Toxin (PST). Food products contaminated with Paralytic Shellfish Toxin (PST) may cause illness if consumed. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible.

Dozens sick from possibly contaminated mussels

In another case of government-types burying the lede, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Sunday warned consumers not to eat certain B.C. mussels.

Half-way through the press release, CFIA stated, “There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these mussels.”

Yesterday, News1130 reported the number of people sick from a bad batch of mussels from Salt Spring Island is now up to 50.

Doctor Eleni Galanis with the BC Centre for Disease Control says they may be contaminated with Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning biotoxin or DSP.

"Unfortunately, it’s not a toxin that can be denatured or killed by cooking so even though the mussels have been well cooked, people can still become ill."

The affected mussels were harvested by Island Sea Farms Inc. from the harvest location “Area: BC 13, Sub Area: 15”or “BC 13-15” between July 19 and August 2, 2011.

The following mussels are affected by this alert:

Saltspring Island Mussels
Aquacultured Edulis Mussels
5 lbs (2.27 kg)
All lots up to and including Lot # 289; all harvest dates up to and including August 2, 2011 (2011AU02)
Albion Fisheries Ltd
Mussel N/Shell Saltspring Isl
5 lbs
All harvest dates up to and including August 4, 2011 (8/04/2011)
Pacific Rim Shellfish Corp.
Mussels or Gallo Mussels
Various weights
All harvest dates up to and including July 31, 2011
SSI Mussels
Various weights
Ship dates of July 20 to August 4, 2011 inclusive
B & C Food
Various weights
Processing dates of July 20 to August 4, 2011 inclusive

Retailers and restaurants are advised to check the tags or labels on mussel packages or with their supplier to determine if they have the affected product.

Seafood in Kansas sucks, but why is seafood being imported into Hawaii?

I will never buy mussels in Kansas again.

I know, why would anyone buy seafood in the geographic center of the U.S., where the mussels are flown in from Canada, but they’re delicious.

Except the stench from the ones I bought Tuesday still has not left the house. Nasty, nasty stuff.

But why are people in Hawaii importing seafood? Kansas, sure, but Hawaii?

The Hawaii state Department of Health said today it has confirmed 10 cases of salmonella infection on Oahu related to eating previously frozen internationally imported raw ahi.

The people who became ill with Salmonella Paratyphi B reported eating raw ahi, often prepared as poke, that was purchased or served at various locations on Oahu.

The DOH said that as of April 12 there were 13 other confirmed cases of Salmonella Paratyphi B in five other states — California (7), Maryland (2), Pennsylvania (2), Massachusetts (1) and New York (1). The DOH said it is working with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if these cases also involved raw ahi.

The DOH said it also has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to open an investigation of international sources of frozen raw ahi.

Belgica mussels under the microscope; is New Zealand better than Old Zeeland?

A year ago Amy and I were sitting in a Wellington, New Zealand restaurant overlooking the harbor, pulling mussels from the shell (it was a holiday complete).

Consumers in Belgium are just beginning to enjoy the annual harvest of so-called Belgica mussels. According to a report forwarded by our European safe food correspondent, Albert Amgar:

Last year there was a lot of hubbub
around the so-called presence of toxic substances in Belgica mussels. This toxin would provoke Diarrheic Shellfish Poisoning, characterized by gastric and intestinal problems, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and intestinal cramps. Counter analyses could not confirm the presence of this toxin.

The mussels cultivated in Belgian waters underwent bimonthly bacteriological testing conducted by the Federal Agency for Food Safety. Weekly tests were also taken in order to detect the possible presence of toxins in mussels and the presence of toxin-bearing algae in the water where the mussels are raised. French authorities are responsible for testing the mussels raised in France.

Belgica was the name given to a Roman province encompassing parts of modern Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg. These Belgica mussels are 20 per cent from Belgian waters and 80 per cent from French waters of the North Sea. Apparently, the less-fleshier Zeeland mussels, from the Zeeland waters of the North Sea – Zeeland is a southern province of The Netherlands – compete with Belgica mussels for the food dollars of Belgian consumers (apparently American and Canadian country-of-origin labels aren’t the only confusing – and largely meaningless – labels out there).

To continue on with the wiki-ized history, the name New Zealand originated with Dutch cartographers – Dutch explorers being the first Europeans to arrive — who called the islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. British explorer James Cook subsequently anglicised the name to New Zealand.

Katie, enjoy some NZ mussels; cause as the poster says, New Zealand: Better than Old Zealand.