The state Health Department has closed all King County beaches to recreational shellfish harvesting after paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) has been found at levels of concern in shellfish samples on county beaches.
Advisory signs are going up at beaches to warn visitors not to collect any shellfish, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County officials.
The closure means you can’t harvest oysters, mussels, scallops, other species of mollusks and invertebrates such as the moon snail. Crabmeat isn’t known to contain the PSP toxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be on the safe side, the health officials say to thoroughly clean crab meat and toss the guts (“butter”). This closure doesn’t apply to shrimp.
The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.
Commercial beaches are checked separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.
According to health officials:
Recreational shellfish harvesting can be closed due to rising levels of PSP at any time. Therefore, harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit the Biotoxin Website http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.