Marine Institute announces new shellfish safety monitoring website

Published by Dan Connell on

August 31, 2017

The Marine Institute has launched a new user-friendly safety reporting website to provide the most up-to-date information available on shellfish and finfish production areas.

The new website will provide information to regulatory authorities, producers, processors, hospitality industry, public health officials, and the general public on recent trends analysis, as well as the current status of shellfish production areas.

It will feature new information such as the progress of sample analysis through the lab, recent trends in toxin and harmful algal concentrations, and maps to indicate the national trends.

Shellfish safety data is used to monitor the status of shellfish and finfish harvesting in terms of food safety regulations and the monitoring of naturally occurring “red tides” known as harmful algal blooms.

Continuous shellfish safety databases are essential when assigning the appropriate ongoing status to the shellfish production areas, as periodically, shellfish can become unsafe to eat due to the presence of naturally occurring toxins originating from the natural micro-algal plankton that shellfish feed on.

To protect consumer health, such incidences require the temporary closure of production to ensure that toxic shellfish are not harvested and subsequently enter the food chain. The open status of shellfish production areas is necessary before the product can be placed back on the market.

‘Open status’ depends on clear tests being obtained for a comprehensive range of shellfish toxins, and in addition, harmful algal species from water samples must be tested on an ongoing basis. In addition, microbiological classification status is assigned on the basis of ongoing testing.

“Placing shellfish on the market requires speedy testing and reporting laboratory results. The Institute has strived towards providing state of the art processes and this new website will provide current status and a range of extra information that was not previously online” said Mr. Joe Silke, Manager of the Shellfish Safety, Marine Institute.

The Marine Institute is the EU designated national reference laboratory for shellfish toxins and shellfish microbiology in Ireland and is an accredited National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for marine Biotoxins.

The Institute carries out a year-round national monitoring and testing programme to ensure that all shellfish are safe before being placed on the market for human consumption.

The ongoing monitoring at the Marine Institute is carried out in conjunction with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

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Dan Connell

Daniel is a journalist and contributor to Green News, whose focus is on marine conservation and environmental issues. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Marine Science from NUI Galway.