Food Standards Scotland is the Competent Authority which is responsible for undertaking Official Controls to determine the safety of marine waters used for the harvesting of live bivalve molluscs (LBMs) in Scotland. LBMs include shellfish such as mussels, oysters, clams, scallops and cockles.
FSS is required, by European legislation, to undertake an extensive programme of Official Control monitoring of LBMs and marine phytoplankton (algae) from LBM harvesting waters. The results of this programme are used to determine whether an area should be open or closed for harvesting depending on the levels of microbiological and chemical contaminants including marine biotoxins. More details of the individual strands of this programme are outlined below:
- Sanitary surveys
- E. coli classification
- Classification documents and protocol
- Biotoxin monitoring
- Phytoplankton monitoring
- Guidance for industry
Weekly shellfish monitoring can be viewed on our Results page.
Shellfish research can be viewed on our Research pages.
Sanitary Surveys are required under European legislation relating to official controls on live bivalve molluscs intended for human consumption (EC Regulation 854/2004). The surveys are intended to provide a thorough assessment of microbiological pollution sources, develop the most representative sampling plan and identify appropriate production area boundaries for all new shellfish production areas. The sources and types of microbiological contamination that might affect new and existing shellfish production areas are examined in detail.
The following information is reviewed and assessed:
- location and extent of the shellfish production area
- type of shellfishery (species, method of harvest, seasonality of harvest)
- location, type and volume of sewage discharges
- location of river inputs and other potentially contaminated water courses (from OS maps/nautical charts)
- location of harbours and marinas (from OS maps/nautical charts)
- hydrographic and hydrometric data
- existing microbiological data from water quality or shellfish monitoring undertaken in the same area or adjacent areas.
Available information is supplemented by a practical shoreline survey.
Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science) have been undertaking sanitary surveys on our behalf since 2007 and have completed over 100 surveys. You can visit their website for more information. Or, for a copy of any of the reports, electronic or CD, please contact email@example.com
Food Standards Scotland is responsible for ensuring that shellfish from designated harvesting areas meet the health standards laid down in EC Regulation 853/2004. Classifications are awarded according to the FSS Protocol for Classification and Management of E.coli results. Live bivalve molluscs (shellfish) harvesting areas are classified by monitoring the levels of E.coli in shellfish flesh.
Treatment processes are specified according to the classification status of the area.
|A||80% of the samples collected during the review period < 230 E.coli/100g of flesh and intravalvular liquid. The remaining 20% of samples < 700 E.Coli/100g of flesh and intravalvular liquid.||May go directly for human consumption if end product standard met|
|B||90% of samples collected during review period < 4600 E.coli/100g of the flesh and intravalvular liquid. The remaining 10% of samples < 46 000 E. Coli/100g of flesh and intravalvular liquid.||Must be subject to purification, relaying in Class A area (to meet Category A requirements) or cooked by an approved method|
|C||Samples < 46,000 E.coli/100g of the flesh and intravalvular liquid.||Must be subject to relaying for a period of at least 2 months or cooked by an approved method|
|above 46,000 E.coli/100g of the flesh and intravalvular liquid||Prohibited. Harvesting not permitted|
In addition, there is a legal requirement for food businesses to ensure the shellfish they harvest from classified waters are safe to eat. Therefore, before placing shellfish on the market, businesses must ensure that they comply with the health standards in Annex III of EC Regulation
s 853/2004 and the Microbiological Criteria adopted under EC Regulation 2073/2005.
The Classification of Shellfish Harvesting Areas in Scotland document 2016/17 has been finalised following the appeals process which is now complete for this year. The document will provide you with all current classified shellfish harvesting area details.
The classification document is divided by local authority area with the details of each classification area stipulated. Declassified production areas are noted in a separate report at the back of the document.
Each classification area has been provided with a Site Identification Number (SIN). It is essential that this number and a grid reference point (to the accuracy of 10 metres) are used on all laboratory sample submission forms. This is essential for the verification and management of sample results.
If you have any queries regarding the contents of these publications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Results of our E.coli monitoring programme can be found on our Results page.
Guidance for industry
Our 'End-product testing for shellfish toxins' leaflet provides food business operators (FBOs) with the information they need to ensure appropriate implementation of end-product testing (EPT) for marine biotoxins in bivalve molluscs. The leaflet also explains how the different biotoxin testing methods work, lists their limitations and describes how they should be used as a part of the wider risk assessment process. Additionally, the document supplies detailed information regarding the current regulatory limits, list of other factors that should be taken into consideration in conjunction with the EPT, as well as a number of case studies – real life examples of situations where EPT results helped FBOs to demonstrate compliance with the regulations and to influence the monitoring programme.