'Harmful' levels of toxic algae found in Western Isles loch shellfish

Samples from several types of shellfish show raised levels of toxins which could be extremely dangerous to humans if consumed.

Warning to avoid shellfish from Western Isles loch after ‘harmful’ toxic algae levels discovered iStock

Seafood from a Western Isles loch may be unsafe for human consumption after “raised” levels of toxins were found in a range of shellfish.

The local authority has warned against eating any produce from West Loch Roag – Miavaig and Eilean Tenish on Lewis following samples taken from mussels, cockles and razor fish.

A routine monitoring check by Food Standards Scotland found potentially fatal biotoxins, usually caused in the spring or summer seasons by microscopic algae, present in some of the catches.

Commercial shellfish harvesters have been informed of the discovery, however no produce fished from the loch should be eaten until further notice.

A Western Isles council spokesperson said the situation would be kept under observation until algae levels subside.

They added: “Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified raised levels of shellfish toxins in West Loch Roag – Miavaig and Eilean Tenish in Lewis. 

“Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, or razor fish from these areas may pose a risk to human health.

“Commercial shellfish harvesters in these areas have been contacted by the Comhairle and steps have been taken to postpone harvesting until algae levels subside. 

“It is a sensible precaution to avoid eating shellfish from the loch until further notice.”

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