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Officials in China have indefinitely banned the import of certain shellfish from the United States over concerns that geoduck clams, oysters and other double-shell aquatic animals are contaminated to the point that human consumption is unsafe.

Chinese officials ordered the ban on December 3 against exports from the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the northern chunk of California, effectively putting a hold on a multi-million dollar West Coast industry that is now scrambling to make sure their shellfish is safe.


Recently shipped American exports, China claimed, contained dangerous levels of arsenic and paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP, which in high enough doses could kill a human being.

University of Washington public radio station KUOW was the first to report on the prohibition last week, and said China’s decision stood to heavily jeopardize an area industry valued at roughly $270 million.

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