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NEWS RELEASE · 15th December 2012
BCCDC
Various shellfish and seafood products from Port Hardy distributor unsafe to eat

The BC Centre for Disease Control is warning the public not to consume various shellfish and seafood products from a private distributor in Port Hardy because of the risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning and botulism.

Products sold include:

Frozen clams (butter clams and possibly others) in small and large Ziploc bags

Jarred clams (butter clams and possibly others) in 500 ml and 1000ml jars

Frozen BBQ salmon

Canned salmon pieces in clam juice

Other similar products may have also been distributed

The products were for sale online and through a Buy and Sell ad on www.buyselltrade.ca but may have also been distributed through other mechanisms.

There is no identifying packaging or product code on these items. These products may have been distributed throughout the province. To date we are not aware of the products being made available through retail or restaurants.

Anyone who may have purchased these products should not consume them, and discard them. Cooking will not destroy the toxins associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning or botulism.

The symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning include: tingling; numbness, spreading from lips and mouth to face, neck and extremities; dizziness; arm and leg weakness; paralysis; respiratory failure; and possibly death. Symptoms start quickly, within 30 minutes to 3 hours. The progression and intensity of the symptoms will vary.

Botulism is a serious, often fatal form of food poisoning. The illness is due to a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that is found everywhere, but grows and produces botulinum toxin when foods are improperly canned.

The symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Constipation may occur. Symptoms generally begin 18-36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as six hours or as late as 10 days afterward. Over the years, a number of Canadians have died from botulism, as a direct result of improper home canning.

The products were harvested from an area closed to shellfish harvesting, and were not processed at a government-approved facility. All bivalve shellfish sold in BC must come from open shellfish harvesting areas and from sources that pass a federal inspection. Canned clams and salmon products may not have been properly processed to control for botulinum toxin.

This alert is the result of an ongoing investigation by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The BCCDC is currently working with DFO, Health Canada, the Ministry of Health, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and regional health authorities to ensure the products are removed from distribution and to investigate any possible cases of illness. Currently there are no illnesses linked to these products.

Anyone who has consumed these products and has become ill should report their illness to their local public health office and see a physician if symptoms persist or become severe. Call the 24-hour HealthLink BC Line at 8-1-1 for more information.

Learn more:

BC HealthFile on marine toxins
BCCDC information on shellfish safety

BCCDC is an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, a specialist in prevention. PHSA is committed to sharing our expertise and knowledge to promote health and prevent illness, manage chronic conditions and lessen the burden of disease in high risk populations.

BCCDC provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services.