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Toxicon. 2010 Aug 15;56(2):108-22. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.12.013. Epub 2009 Dec 24.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning: seafood safety and human health perspectives.

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U.S. FDA, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Regulatory Science, Division of Analytical Chemistry, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, HFS-707, College Park, MD 20740, USA.


Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is the foodborne illness associated with the consumption of seafood products contaminated with the neurotoxins known collectively as saxitoxins (STXs). This family of neurotoxins binds to voltage-gated sodium channels, thereby attenuating action potentials by preventing the passage of sodium ions across the membrane. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, headaches, weakness and difficulty breathing. Medical treatment is to provide respiratory support, without which the prognosis can be fatal. To protect human health, seafood harvesting bans are in effect when toxins exceed a safe action level (typically 80 microg STX eq 100 g(-1) tissue). Though worldwide fatalities have occurred, successful management and monitoring programs have minimized PSP cases and associated deaths. Much is known about the toxin sources, primarily certain dinoflagellate species, and there is extensive information on toxin transfer to traditional vectors - filter-feeding molluscan bivalves. Non-traditional vectors, such as puffer fish and lobster, may also pose a risk. Rapid and reliable detection methods are critical for toxin monitoring in a wide range of matrices, and these methods must be appropriately validated for regulatory purposes. This paper highlights PSP seafood safety concerns, documented human cases, applied detection methods as well as monitoring and management strategies for preventing PSP-contaminated seafood products from entering the food supply.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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