Purging Saltwater Mussels and Clams

Joined Mar 19, 2011
Hi All!

I'm new here and I have a growing interest in collecting Mussels and Clams from my local beach.

I live in Bronx, NY and it's a saltwater beach were I would like to harvest them from.

I was told their not safe to eat. But was wondering if I purge them a few days with cornmeal and breadcrumbs and fresh salt water daily will there become safe to eat??

People eat fish they catch at this beach so I would think mussels and clams can be purged to eat safely.

Any help is appreciated! Thanks in advance!,

Joined Feb 8, 2009
WE used to eat Clams in Long Island sound years ago, off Bridgeport, Ct, have things change ????..............A mature oyster will filter 55 gal of salt water daily, small shell fish, depending on size will filter between 6 to 26 gal a day. I would say if something is toxic, your not going to bring it back to health with clean filtering water..................ChefBillyB
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Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Purging, when referring to shellfish, means to make them purge the sand that they have ingested, not toxins that have accumulated in their bodies over time.  Since shellfish are "filter" feeder type animals and ingest great amounts of water over time, they are often some of the first creatures, in an area, affected by toxic chemicals.  I would check with the local DNR or even health department and if they say that the shellfish is not safe, then forget it.  No amount of soaking and purging will make them safe.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I'm guessing you're talking about Plum Beach, City Island, or one of those beach areas?

Although New York has come a long way cleaning up its waters, shellfish taken from those areas are not safe to eat. You chance serious illness and death doing so, for the reasons given above.

Finned fish, on the other hand, are a different situation. With rare exception, because of how they eat, and the fact they are migratory, toxins do not build up in their bodies. The possible exceptions are fatty fish, such as bluefish, because heavy metals and some man-made products such as PCBs, do build in the fatty tissues.

Both the City health people, State conservation officials, and even the feds (through the SeaGrant program) should have advisories as to what is or is not safe to eat from New York waters. I would check with them.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I live across the water in Whitestone Queens, Do yourself a favor and stay away from the shellfish. The fish from those beaches are ok...because they are not planted in the muck there 24/7. I harvested some mussels from Little Neck Bay a few years back, beautiful silver shells, bright yellow plump meat...I didn't die of poisoning, but they weren't that good anyway....why take the chance? Grab yourself a fishing pole and we can fish together...crabbing in late summer is awesome too. I hit the surf almost nightly from april 15th to december.
Joined Mar 11, 2011
I can tell you how to purge crawfish, but like the others said, it doesn't purge them of toxins, it makes them vomit and poop! Put sack of crawfish in washtub full of water, stir in a box of salt. TGive it a few minutes then put the hose in the tub and turn on the water. Let the hose cycle that water in the tub for about 30min-1hour, rinse them off and they're ready for boiling. Your products live in salt water, so clean fresh water might do the same thing.
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