Food poisoning associated with consumption of raw mussels

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

New Zealand Food Safety is urging people to ensure they cook raw mussels thoroughly after an increase in cases of food poisoning associated with commercially grown mussels from the Coromandel area. 

New Zealand Food Safety director of food regulation Paul Dansted said people got sick as the mussels were eaten raw or they did not thoroughly cook them.

“Cooking kills the marine microorganism Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which occurs naturally throughout the world. Not all strains of this microorganism cause illness in humans.  

“Generally people who are sick recover without hospital treatment however, in severe cases, hospitalisation is required. The symptoms are predominantly stomach cramps and watery diarrhoea and sometimes nausea, vomiting, and fever.”

If you have eaten raw mussels and feel unwell, contact your doctor immediately.

“Testing is being done to confirm the type of Vibrio parahaemolyticus that has caused this illness. New Zealand Food Safety has an ongoing survey programme to test mussels and growing waters to help us understand why this occurred.

“Until we have more information, New Zealand Food Safety is reminding consumers to take care when handling, preparing and consuming mussels. Our advice to consumers who are pregnant or have low immunity is to avoid eating raw shellfish,” says Paul Dansted.

General advice for consumers includes:

  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked mussels or other shellfish. Cook them thoroughly before eating.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.
  • Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.

“Eating raw shellfish always carries risk for foodborne illness,” says Paul Dansted.

Make sure you cook shellfish thoroughly before consuming.

The mussels were all bought in their raw state, in the shell. They are not the mussels that are sold in plastic pottles.

Find out more

Fact sheet about Vibrio parahaemolyticus [PDF, 21 KB]

Hand washing – Ministry of Health

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