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Evaluation of Methods for the Assessment of Sewage Discharge Consent Applications with Respect to Shellfisheries

Institutions
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (CEFAS)
Start date
1999
End date
2001
Objective
This research project intends to improve the technical assessment of applications for sewage discharge.

The approaches used in this project comprised:

  • A review of current methods of shellfishery and bathing water directed assessments;
  • Determination of the impact of environmental factors on the microbiological contamination of shellfisheries;
  • An investigation into the use of simple hydrodynamic models in the assessment process;
  • Quantitative methods for prediction of the effects of sewage discharge schemes with respect to the microbiological contamination of shellfisheries;
  • Recommendation of a revised protocol for the technical assessment of consent applications, incorporating proposals for inclusion of novel elements identified by the project.
More information
Filter-feeding bivalve molluscs can concentrate contaminants from the water column and these contaminants may include human pathogens, such as Norovirus (NV) and hepatitis A virus, occurring as a result of contamination with human faeces.

Other pathogens, such as salmonella and campylobacter, may arise from human or animal sources. Determination of the extent of faecal contamination is usually undertaken by estimating the concentration of faecal coliforms and/or E. coli.

Under the Shellfish Hygiene Directive (91/492/EEC), commercial bivalve mollusc harvesting areas have to be classified according to the extent of contamination with these indicators and this dictates the level of post-harvesting treatment to which the shellfish have to be subjected.

Shellfish-associated infection in temperate developed countries is predominantly due to viruses such as NV and is thought to derive from continuous and intermittent sewage discharges.

Due to the failure of some post-harvesting process methods to completely remove viruses, the most effective means of reducing the extent of contamination with these pathogens is to minimise the contamination at source.

This will have commercial benefits for the shellfish industry due to lower processing costs and/or, with improvement to class A, improved marketability.

Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the Food Standards Agency Research webpage.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project number
B05002
Categories
Campylobacter
Escherichia coli
Salmonella