Maine recovers majority of mussels recalled due to domoic acid
Shellfish harvesters and dealers in the U.S. state of Maine are scrambling to respond to a recall of mussels made on 15 September due to the presence of high levels of domoic acid.
The outbreak of the biotoxin closed several shellfish areas affected products sold by five Maine shellfish dealers. When ingested, domoic acid can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning, which can result in illness, brain damage, and memory loss.
Maine shellfish dealers were notified on 15 September by the Maine Department of Marine Resources that mussels harvested between 10 and 14 September in the closed area from Mount Desert Island to Gouldsboro were subject to the recall.
A total of 58,480 pounds of mussels harvested in Frenchman Bay were affected by the recall. However, by 18 September 57,492 pounds – 98 percent of the mussels – had been recovered and destroyed, according to the Maine DMR.
“At this point, the recall is complete and, due to the cooperation of the dealers involved, we have been able to recover nearly all of the affected product,” DMR Public Health Bureau Director Kohl Kanwit said.
On 14 September, MDR closed the area between East Point on Mount Desert Island and Cranberry Point in Gouldsboro to the harvest of mussels, clams, oysters, and whelks because of elevated levels of domoic acid, the biotoxin that causes ASP. So far, only mussels have been affected by the domoic acid, according to the DMR.
A second area between Machiasport and Calais has also been closed as a precaution due to elevated concentrations of the algae associated with ASP in water samples.
“No shellfish in that area has shown actionable levels of domoic acid. However, shellfish testing will continue,” DMR said.
The entire coast of Maine is being closely monitored for the presence of domoic acid, according to DMR. The closed areas will re-open when there are two consecutive scores from shellfish testing at least one week apart that are below the action level indicated, and there is a decline in the concentration of phytoplankton in the water, DMR said.
This is the second year in a row – and only the second time in its history – that Maine has had to issue a shellfish recall because of a biotoxin scare.