Examples of UK farmed shellfish (wikimedia image)

Examples of UK farmed shellfish (wikimedia image)

wg4: human health and food safety

lead by:
Dr Shelagh Malham (Bangor university)
Dr Victor Kuri (university of Plymouth)

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Food safety is an important challenge to the expansion of the shellfish aquaculture sector. In the UK, it is strictly regulated and bivalve molluscs must be harvested from areas classified under the Food Hygiene Regulations, which use the number of faecal indicator bacteria such as E. coli to assess whether an area of shellfish can be exploited. E. coli numbers are, however, only an indicator of microbial pollution and there is the possibility that standards will be brought in for norovirus and/or other viruses (e.g. Hep A, Hep E) potentially affecting bivalve mollusc culture throughout Europe. There are several knowledge gaps including viral behaviour, potential antibiotic resistance in bacterial contaminants, species specificity, depuration and management strategies that need further investigation through the academic, industry and government partnership. It is critical that these gaps are addressed to ensure sustainable economic and environmental development of shellfish production.

Key areas for this WG to explore:

a)    Engage with stakeholders, regulators and the government on areas of emerging concern for the shellfish industry related to food safety.

b)    Identify knowledge gaps in both research and management to reduce potential contamination and review these on behalf of SAG.

c)     Linking with WG 7, assess the importance of viruses and bacteria in warming seas in relation to human health and make recommendations for future research priorities.