Shellfish Safety | Northland DHB

Shellfish Safety

Click here for kaimoana/shellfish collection health warnings in Northland.

Health Protection staff monitor and advise on the safety of gathering shellfish/kaimoana.

  • Shellfish such as oysters, mussels, pipis, tuatuas, and cockles are known as "Filter Feeders".
  • They filter any harmful bacteria, viruses, toxins and chemicals from the seawater which then build up in their flesh and gut.
  • Anyone eating contaminated shellfish may then become sick.
  • Special care must always be taken when gathering and eating shellfish

Health Risks

Eating shellfish from areas contaminated with pollution or sewage could cause:

  • a fever
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach cramps
  • vomiting

Eating shellfish from areas with an algal bloom (biotoxin contamination) could cause:

  • tingling of lips and mouth
  • nausea
  • loss of muscle control
  • vomiting
  • loss of memory
  • death

Cooking or freezing shellfish does not kill the toxins and can be very dangerous if eaten by people or animals.
Please download Safe shellfish flyer and shellfish collecting poster to view further information.


On Call Health Protection Officer
Ph: 09 430 4100

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