BC Clams, Salmon Warning: 'Buy And Sell' Ad Sold Improperly Processed Seafood

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Clams sold in B.C. must come from open shellfish harvesting areas and from sources that pass a federal inspection. (Getty)
Clams sold in B.C. must come from open shellfish harvesting areas and from sources that pass a federal inspection. (Getty)

B.C. health officials are warning the public not to eat clams and salmon sold privately online in Port Hardy, because of a risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning and botulism.

The products were sold in Ziploc bags and jars with no identifying packaging or product code, said the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) on Friday. Frozen and jarred clams were harvested from an area closed to shellfish harvesting, and were not processed at a government-approved facility.

The Buy and Sell ad lists small bags of frozen butter clams for $20 and large bags for $40, while 500 mL jars went for $20 and 1,000 mL jars for $50.

Frozen BBQ salmon and canned salmon pieces in clam juice were also sold, said the centre in a news release. Those products may not have been properly processed to prevent botulism.

Anyone with these products should throw them away. Cooking the shellfish or salmon will not destroy the toxins associated with the food poisonings which can lead to death.

Aside from the online ad, the products "may have also been distributed through other mechanisms ... throughout the province," said the BCCDC statement. "To date we are not aware of the products being made available through retail or restaurants."

To date, no illnesses linked to these products have been reported.

The symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning start quickly, within 30 minutes to three hours. They include dizziness; numbness spreading from lips and mouth to face, neck and extremities; arm and leg weakness; paralysis; respiratory failure; and possibly death.

The symptoms of botulism generally start 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food — but they can occur as early as six hours or as late as 10 days afterward. Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

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