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Risk Factors in Shellfish Harvesting Areas (SARF 013)


A sanitary survey using existing bacteriological and environmental data will be conducted on a well characterised shellfish growing area in Scotland. Information will be provided from previous studies carried out by SAMS and also from FSAS, SEPA and Scottish Water. Sampling plans will be developed to take account of trigger events identified in the sanitary survey responsible for microbial contamination.
Shellfish samples will be analysed for the presence of Norovirus, bacteriophages and faecal indicators such as faecal coliforms and E. coli. Temperature and salinity readings will be taken at sampling sites throughout the duration of the sampling period to determine whether contamination observed is linked to alterations in water mass structure caused, for example, by prolonged rainfall.
The project duration is 24 months during which time the available data will be reviewed and the sanitary survey conducted. Detailed sampling and analyses plans will be informed by the sanitary survey. Sampling will take place over a 12-month period. Initially, weekly sampling of sites for bacterial and viral contamination will be conducted, with more intensive study during defined trigger events.

More information

This work is needed to improve our understanding of the factors that affect the contamination of shellfish harvesting areas in Scotland, and will assist with the development of preventative strategies for reducing the bacterial and viral risks associated with shellfish consumption.
The study will attempt to determine the processes that lead to the faecal contamination of mussels. Discharges of human and animal faecal material into shellfish growing waters can come from several sources. However, it is likely that shellfish may be contaminated during acute events that are impossible to determine/study from one-off or irregular sampling. In this project viral and bacterial contamination will be monitored on a weekly basis. In the context of archived and published information. This study will attempt to determine discharge and/or weather-related triggers for contamination and will monitor putative trigger conditions by more frequent (daily) sampling.
The bacteriological, virological and environmental variables measured, together with available data from other sources regarding e.g. weather, discharges etc., will be statistically assessed to determine likely sources of contamination and factors that contribute to episodic contamination.
The methods employed in this study will be consistent with those of a larger EU project called REDRISK so that the findings can contribute to understanding of these problems at a European level.

<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>.

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (CEFAS)
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