Red tide toxin in Sabah continues to make shellfish unsafe to eat

The Star, 7 Jun 2013

KOTA KINABALU: It is still not advisable to consume shellfish, as the level of red tide toxin recorded in various parts of Sabah sea continues to be high.

Sabah Fisheries Department Director Rayner Stuel Galid said the toxic level is still within 700 Mouse Unit (MU), which is a relatively dangerous level for humans.

“Food poisoning and even death can result from the consumption of red tide intoxicated shellfish,” he said, adding the lowest MU unit considered safe for humans is below 400 MU.

Traders are also reminded to cooperate with the authorities by not selling the shellfish as they could risk the lives of people.

“Only the Fisheries Department can detect the presence of this toxin in all types of shellfish in our specialised lab and not by mere sight or smell,” Rayner explained.

He added that the toxin in shellfish also could not be made safe by washing it repeatedly or by cooking.

Symptoms of the deadly algae bloom, commonly known as the red tide phenomenon, includes tingling of the lips and tongue depending on the severity of the poisoning.

Symptoms may progress to a prickling of pins and needles’ sensation followed by the loss of control in a person’s arms and legs and later difficulty in breathing.

Those with such symptoms are advised to seek immediate medical attention as delay may result in death.

The deadly red algae blood more commonly known as red tide phenomenon was detected in November last year and is expected to tail off by end of this month.

In March, higher levels of red-tide toxins were detected in clam samples obtained from Kuala Penyu and areas off Kota Kinabalu City, Sipitang and Tuaran.