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Risk Assessment of Current Shellfish Toxin Monitoring Schemes and Development of Improved Schemes


Shellfish harvested from inshore production areas in Scotland are monitored by the Food Standards Agency Scotland (FSAS) for the toxins responsible for amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP), diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) and paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Consumption of shellfish contaminated with these toxins leads to symptoms such as diarrhoea, memory loss, paralysis and in severe cases might lead to death.
Currently, the FSAS monitoring programme is based on testing at those sites where these toxins have been previously detected in shellfish. Monitoring is carried out on a monthly basis, with sites that are known to be at high risk monitored fortnightly during April to September. If toxin levels exceed the statutory safety limit, the harvesting area will be closed until two successive results, at least one week apart, fall below the safety limit.
The aims of the project were to:
provide a description of how toxin levels of ASP, DSP and PSP vary during the year at various sites, for mussels, Pacific oysters, scallops, queen scallops and cockles
assess the risks that the current programme may not detect a toxic site<p>
develop alternative monitoring schemes that offer a more efficient allocation of resources, or an improved level of public health protection

More information

The monitoring data on levels of DSP in mussels, PSP in mussels and ASP in king scallop gonads for each site during each month from April 2001 to March 2004 will be used to carry out a risk assessment. The findings of this risk assessment will be used to develop alternative sampling schemes that offer a more efficient allocation of resources or an improved level of public health protection.

<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="; target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.

Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland
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