Are Shellfish From East Coast Malaysia Toxic?!

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Are shellfish from the East Coast of Malaysia poisoned with dangerous saxitoxin?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!


Claim : Shellfish From East Coast Malaysia Have Saxitoxin!

A video keeps going viral on WhatsApp, and social media platforms like TikTok and Twitter.

According to the lady in the video, Public Health Malaysia just warned people not to consume clams in the East Coast of Malaysia.

Apparently, the clams are polluted by a dangerous algae that produces a toxin called saxitoxin. People who eat these claims, can suffer anything from stomachache, nausea and vomiting, to “rapid death within 12 hours”.

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Truth : Saxitoxin Shellfish Ban In Malaysia Occurred In 2021!

This is yet another example of MISLEADING videos circulating on WhatsApp and social media, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : Video Was Originally Posted In October 2021

First, I should point out that this video is not new. The viral video was originally posted on TikTok by Charlotte Chew, on 13 October 2021.

Fact #2 : Video Was Clearly Dated

Charlotte was probably aware that her video may (later) be misused, so she posted the date of her video at the beginning.

So it is peculiar that so many people continue to share the 2021 video, as if it’s relevant in 2023…

Fact #3 : Ban On Shellfish Only Affected Sungai Geting In Kelantan

The danger of shellfish contaminated with saxitoxin did not involve the whole East Coast of Malaysia. Rather, it was limited to a small part of Kelantan. Specifically – Sungai Geting.

On 11 October 2021, the Kelantan Fisheries Department (JPNK) imposed an immediate ban on eating molluscs (shellfish) from Sungai Geting, due to a suspected red tide (harmful algal bloom).

JPNK director Nazri Ishak, at that time, said that the sale and harvest of molluscs like oysters and claims were forbidden.

An analysis by the Fisheries Biosecurity Lab shows that molluscs from the area are contaminated with saxitoxin from harmful alga, Alexandrium minutum.

If consumed, the contaminated molluscs can cause poisoning and pose a threat to human health.

We will do weekly testing until they are safe to eat. As a preventative measure, the harvesting of molluscs is prohibited until the investigation is over and safety is guaranteed.

Nazri also said that red tides commonly occur in Sungai Geting due to hot weather, and other factors.

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Are Shellfish From East Coast Malaysia Toxic?!

Fact #4 : Warning Is No Longer Valid

The advice that Charlotte Chew gave in the video is correct, but this warning is no longer valid in 2023.

The ban on eating shellfish at that time was due to a dangerous algal bloom that was spotted in October 2021. As and when these algal bloom occurs, the authorities will issue alerts.

People have to stop sharing old videos, because they are often out-of-date, and are no longer valid.

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.



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