SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington Health Department has closed King County beaches to recreational shellfish harvesting after concerning levels of a dangerous toxin were found in samples.

County health officials say signs are being posted at beaches warning people not to collect shellfish. Paralytic shellfish poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing a potent neurotoxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

The closure applies to clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of mollusks and invertebrates such as the moon snail. Crabmeat isn’t known to contain the toxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. Health officials recommend thoroughly cleaning crab meat and discarding the guts.

The closure doesn’t apply to shrimp.

Commercial beaches are checked separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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