Commercial crab from south coast must be eviscerated to protect public health

SALEM — The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday the establishment of a biotoxin management zone from Cape Blanco to the California-Oregon border, effective immediately.

To protect consumers, all crab landed from this area must have the viscera (guts) removed by a licensed processor, according to a press release issued by the ODFW.

Dungeness crab internal organs sampled from the area have biotoxins above the alert level, indicating that crab harvested from the biotoxin management zone must be eviscerated (gutted) before it is safe for consumption. Traceability measures that were put in place at the start of the season (Dec. 1, 2017) will be used to ensure that whole crab are eviscerated.

Crab meat remains safe for consumers who purchase it in retail markets or at restaurants. Domoic acid levels are elevated only in crab viscera of crab sampled and tested from this area of the Oregon Coast.

Because of Oregon’s precautionary management of biotoxins, crab and shellfish products currently being sold in retail markets and restaurants are considered safe for consumers, the release said.

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring biotoxin produced by marine phytoplankton or algae that grow and bloom during certain seasons. When the algae are in high numbers, the biotoxin they produce is eaten and concentrated by crabs and other species, the release said.

Eating shellfish that is contaminated with domoic acid can cause illness in humans within minutes to hours resulting in cramping, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, consumption can result in memory problems or even death. The toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking, adding baking soda or any other method. Anyone experiencing these symptoms after eating seafood should contact a physician immediately.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at 800-448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page at http://ODA.direct/ShellfishClosures

For notices to the commercial crabbing industry, see ODFW commercial crabbing webpage at www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/commercial/crab/news_publications.asp

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