Monterey Bay anchovies

Fresh Monterey Bay anchovies, gutted and filleted. Domoic acid tends to contaminate only a fish's internal organs, so gutted fish are of lesser concern.

A naturally occurring toxin is showing up in seafood recently caught in Monterey Bay, the state Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned today.

Unsafe levels of domoic acid, produced by algae blooms, have been detected in anchovy, sardines and the internal organs of crab caught off the shores of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, according to the press release:

"Anchovy and sardines are of concern because the toxin resides in their digestive tracks. These fish are not usually gutted before they are eaten. CDPH is working with commercial fishermen in the area to ensure that recently caught sardines, anchovies and crab were not distributed into the human food supply."

Last Friday, CDPH warned consumers to avoid bivalves including mussels, clams and whole scallops harvested by recreational fishermen in Monterey Bay. Commercially sold bivalves from approved sources were exempt from the advisory because they are tested for toxins.

Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning onset within 24 hours of consumption and can include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

No related illnesses have been reported, according to the statement, and the state continues to monitor domoic acid levels in the area's seafood.

For more information and updates, call (800) 553-4133 or visit CDPH’s Natural Marine Toxins website.

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