Cockles never safe to eat unless tested and purchased through proper outlet

In the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Alaska magazine, a story on page 64 called “Hunting the Mighty Cockle” included an error.


That story incorrectly suggested that cockles, an Alaskan shellfish, can be harvested and eaten based on the time of year. It stated “it is only safe to dig cockles in the late fall and winter, when the water temperature is too cold to allow blooming of the algae that cause paralysis shellfish poisoning.”

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has clarified that there is no safe time for harvesting cockles for human consumption. The department issued a public statement saying individuals who want to eat cockles should only purchase them at a proper wholesale or retail outlet. It said in part: “Shellfish can contain the toxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) any time of the year. The DHSS Section of Epidemiology has received reports of Alaskans with PSP during every month of the year; there are no ‘safe’ months.”

To learn more about Alaska shellfish and PSP, see the Alaska Division of Environmental Health website at

Alaska magazine regrets the error.

Debbie Cutler

Editor, Alaska Magazine


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