This research project intends to establish optimum methods for the detection of C. parvum, E. coli and campylobacter in UK shellfish and evaluate the effectiveness of commercial purification.
<p>New methods for the presence and enumeration of several pathogenic micro-organisms are now available, in particular for Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Cryptosporidium parvum and E. coli O157.
<p>Their use will allow the shellfish industry and consumers to better assess product safety. While Vibrio parahaemolyticus is sometimes implicated in UK food poisoning, the true pathogenic status of isolates is unknown and requires verification.
<p>Prior to consumption, numbers of micro-organisms in shellfish from class B harvesting areas can be reduced by a process called depuration which involves placing the shellfish in a tank through which seawater is continually re-circulated via an integral UV lamp that kills the bacteria washed free from the shellfish.
<p>The effectiveness of this commercial process on removal of C. parvum, E. coli O157 and campylobacter was assessed.
Shellfish, specifically bivalve molluscan shellfish, such as oysters and mussels, are filter feeders which have the ability to concentrate and retain micro-organisms.
<p>Some of these are pathogenic to humans and are of particular concern if the shellfish is consumed either raw or undercooked. Monitoring the hygienic status of UK shellfish is currently limited to Salmonella spp. and E. coli.
<p>However, the presence of other specific pathogens (e.g. Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Cryptosporidium parvum and E. coli O157) is unknown due to the limited sensitivity and specificity of conventional methods used in present surveillance exercises.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.