People urged not to eat illegal mussels

New Zealand Food Safety has removed Nakai and other Mussels from Fiji from some small retailers

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Wellington, September 6, 2022

The New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) has urged consumers not to eat mussels being sold illegally at independent retailers or online.

The sale of imported mussels is carefully controlled to ensure that they meet New Zealand’s food safety requirements. While mussels from Fiji may be brought into New Zealand for personal use, they cannot be sold.

Fijian mussels removed

Deputy Director General Vincent Arbuckle said that Fijian mussels have been removed from sale at some smaller retailers catering to Pacific Island communities, and online.

“As NZFS has not assessed Fiji’s growing, harvesting and processing controls for mussels we cannot be confident that the mussels don’t pose a food safety risk to consumers,” he said.

The mussels are also known as Nakai, Naakai, Nakaai, Kai, Batissa Violacea and Fresh Water Mussels.

Mr Arbuckle said that it is important that mussels sold are safe to eat

“Knowing where the mussels you want to buy have come from can help reduce the risk of any potential health problems. Our message to people buying mussels is that if you are in any doubt, ask the retailer where the product has come from. If it is from Fiji, the mussels should not be for sale,” he said.

Higher-Risk food

Mussels are of higher-risk food because of the way they feed, which increases the likelihood of contamination from bacteria, viruses, toxins and chemicals.

Eating contaminated mussels can lead to significant illness for vulnerable people, including the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

“New Zealand Food Safety will monitor the situation and will act quickly to remove illegal mussels in the interests of public health. Meanwhile, we would like to empower consumers to be on the lookout for illegal mussels. This applies whether you are making a regular visit to your local speciality store or browsing social media feeds,” Mr Arbuckle said.

Anyone worried about their health should contact their GP or call Healthline on 0800-611116.
If you are aware of the sale of mussels from Fiji, please contact NZFS at 0800-008333. Email: info@mpi.govt.nz or ‘make a food complaint’ tool.

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