Controls

Foods contaminated with marine toxins cannot be identified without exhaustive analyses. Cooking will not inactivate these toxins. Controls are largely dependent on restrictions on harvests and prompt recognition of illnesses (18,19). Harvests of all contaminated shellfish are usually restricted based on toxin levels in edible tissues. Systematic processes to screen fish and shellfish are not in place except for monitoring of paralytic and neurotoxic shellfish poisons in shellfish-growing waters under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. The National Shellfish Sanitation Program is described in greater detail in another article. Harvests are prohibited when concentrations of saxitoxins exceed 80 /¿g/100 g tissue for paralytic shellfish poison and 20 mouse units of brevetoxins per 100 g tissue for neurotoxic shellfish poison. Because neurotoxic shellfish poison correlates with levels of causative dinoflagel-lates in the water column, many states prohibit harvesting shellfish when concentrations exceed 5,000 cells P. brevis per liter of seawater (31). These areas are kept closed until edible tissue levels of toxin fall below FDA tolerances specified above.

Harvests of amnesic shellfish poison-contaminated shellfish can be controlled by monitoring of the causative organism in the growing area, but this is not done routinely. Cell monitoring is not effective in controlling paralytic and diarrhetic shellfish poisonings. Ciguatera is controlled, in part, by avoiding harvests from reefs implicated in frequent intoxications. It is controlled by avoiding large specimens of frequently toxic species from suspect areas because the toxin is bioaccumulated as fish prey on small herbivores.

Scombroid poisoning can be completely controlled by rapid and constant refrigeration of susceptible species immediately following harvest and throughout all processing and handling steps. Lots suspected of time—temperature abuse can be analyzed for the presence of histamine and rejected when levels exceed 50 mg/100 g.

Some of the toxins can be controlled during processing, handling, and meal preparation. Removal of certain internal and reproductive organs of some fish and shellfish (scallops) will remove a majority of paralytic and diarrhetic shellfish poisons, ciguatera, and pufferfish poison. Puffer-fish poisoning is largely controlled, however, by proper meal preparation by trained fugu dealers and cooks.

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