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State health officials warn public about tainted shellfish, crustaceans from Channel Islands

October 18, 2010 |  5:12 pm

State health officials are warning the public to avoid eating sport-harvested shellfish, lobsters and crab caught offshore from the Channel Islands because of high levels of toxins.

The warning applies only to shellfish, crustaceans and small fin fish caught by sport fishermen and divers, the California Department of Public Health said. Commercial shellfish harvesters and dealers are certified and subject to mandatory testing.

Recent samples of shellfish and crustaceans caught off the Channel Islands have contained domoic acid, which can cause vomiting, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness within 30 minutes to 24 hours after ingestion, officials said.

No cases of domoic acid poisoning are known to have occurred in California, the department said.

For updated information, consumers can call a "Shellfish Information Line" at (800) 553-4133 or click on the Web page of the Department of Public Health.

-- Robert J. Lopez