FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2000
Santa Ana, April 28,
2000 The Orange County Environmental Health Division,
reminds consumers that the Annual Mussel Quarantine in
California will be in effect in Orange County from May
1 through October 31, 2000. Sport harvesting of mussels
for human consumption is prohibited along the entire California
coastline. All bays and inlets are included in the quarantine.
The purpose of this quarantine is to protect the public
from deadly poisons which may be present in bivalve mollusks,
such as mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops. Between
1927 and 2000, California recorded 521 cases of Paralytic
Shellfish Poisoning, including 32 deaths.
The greatest hazard is poisoning from mussels because
they develop high levels of toxin more quickly than other
mollusks and are eaten whole without removal of digestive
organs. All dark parts should be removed from clams, oysters
and scallops before eating, since the poison may be concentrated
in those areas. Health officials emphasize that toxic
mussels cannot be distinguished from harmless ones. Moreover,
cooking does not destroy the toxins as they are relatively
The California quarantine applies only to mussels collected
locally by sports harvesters. All commercial shellfish
harvesters in California must be certified by the State
and are subject to strict testing requirements.
The safest guideline to follow is:
Do not eat mussels from California coastal waters collected
by sports harvesters from May 1 through October 31.