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August 23, 2011

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City to inspect seafood markets for toxic snails

SHANGHAI authorities will inspect the sale of nassarius snails at local seafood markets after food-poisoning cases were reported elsewhere, officials said yesterday.

Three people were reported ill after eating the snails, which can become highly toxic, in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, early this month.

The citywide inspection is set to kick off today, looking into the three biggest seafood markets in Shanghai - the Tongchuan Road Seafood Market in Putuo District, the Orient International Seafood Market in Yangpu District and the Hengda Seafood Market in the Pudong New Area.

"In previous years, nassarius snails were rarely sold in Shanghai," said Fan Shoulin, secretary general of the Shanghai Fisheries Trade Association.

Fan said the association will tighten up the supervision at local seafood markets even though there have been no deaths from eating toxic snails reported in Shanghai in recent years.

The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration warned local residents not to eat nassarius snails in 2008 after cases of food poisoning related to the mollusks were reported across the country.

Since then, the species has a relatively low reputation among seafood vendors and residents in Shanghai, who prefer species such as sea snails, moon snails and striped snails.

Statistics show that from 1985 to 2008, at least 48 people in China died from food poisoning from nassarius snails.

In 2002, three were poisoned to death in Fujian Province and more than 50 people suffered from vomiting, headaches and fatigue after dining on the poisonous snails.

After that, the province's health authorities banned the sale and consumption of the snails.

In 2007, the Ministry of Health issued a state-level notice, requiring restaurants not to purchase process or sell nassarius snails.

The notice also suggested consumers not risk their lives by eating the snails.


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