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Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Classifies Shellfish Areas According to Water Hygiene

6th July 2010
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Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Classifies Shellfish Areas According to Water Hygiene

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has published the 2010/11 Shellfish Area Microbiological Classification. This document classifies shellfish production areas according to water quality.

 

The European food regulations require shellfish areas to be classified using the amount of bacteria found in sampled shellfish, as an index of water quality. The resultant outcome is one of three classifications; ‘A’ (highest quality, lowest bacterial count) through to ‘B’ and ‘C’. This classification defines how these shellfish may be marketed, for example, shellfish consumed directly may only be harvested from ‘A’ areas, that is, waters meeting the highest microbiological standards. Conversely, shellfish harvested from areas of lower water quality require further depuration/purification or cooking prior to sale.

In Ireland, SFPA is the Competent Authority for the classification of shellfish areas, under the Service Contract with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). SFPA officers, in collaboration with shellfish farmers, carry out regular sampling of areas, for analysis at laboratories under the supervision of the Marine Institute (MI). Those results are collated and consultation takes place with the shellfish industry in accordance with an agreed Code of Practice for the Microbiological Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas which describes the procedures and criteria for the classification of Irish shellfish harvesting areas.

Micheal O’ Mahony, Authority Board Member with the SFPA said: “The Irish shellfish industry produces some of the finest shellfish in the world. Microbiological Classification of areas is a resource-intensive function of the SFPA and we need to have confidence that the classification attributed to each area provides a meaningful reflection of water quality in that area. Whilst we are delighted to see upgrading in a number of areas, it is disappointing however to see downgrading in certain locations. Bacteria in coastal waters generally arise from discharges and/or natural drainage of human or animal wastes and have direct influence on the safety of food harvested from those areas. While shellfish producers have a responsibility to produce safe food, and to market their produce according to the classification of production areas; coastal water quality can only be maintained and improved through active stewardship of the coastal environment by all relevant stakeholders.”

The links to Classified Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas in Ireland and Code of Practice for the Microbiological Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas are below: 

2010 Classified Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas in Ireland <http://sfpa-ie.access.secure-ssl-servers.biz/index.php?q=201011-classified-bivalve-mollusc-production-areas-ireland-15-june-2010

COP for Microbiological Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Productions Areas  <http://sfpa-ie.access.secure-ssl-servers.biz/index.php?q=shellfish

 

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