Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Toxin Detected in Scallop


The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) detected a high level of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin in a scallop sample taken under the routine food surveillance programme for testing. In view of the finding, the CFS has advised the public to avoid eating this kind of scallop for the time being.

Action Taken by the CFS

The CFS is tracing the source of the related scallop and will take more samples for testing. The CFS will continue to closely monitor the situation and take action as appropriate.

What is Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin?

PSP toxin is a natural toxin which can be found in bi-valve shellfish. The symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning are predominantly neurological and the onset is usually within minutes to hours after ingestion of the shellfish. Initial symptoms include tingling, numbness of the mouth and extremities and gastrointestinal discomfort such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms usually resolve completely within hours to days. In severe cases, difficulty in swallowing and speech, paralysis with respiratory arrest and even death may occur. PSP toxin is heat-stable and cannot be destroyed through cooking.

Advice to the Public

To avoid Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, members of the public are advised to observe the following:

  1. Buy shellfish from reliable and licensed seafood shops;
  2. Remove the viscera, gonads and roe before cooking and eat a smaller amount of shellfish in any one meal;
  3. Children, patients and the elderly may be susceptible to poisoning and should be cautious in consuming shellfish; and
  4. When symptoms occur after consuming shellfish, seek medical advice immediately.

Further Information

Further information can be obtained from the following webpages:

Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
28 April 2007