A database was created using the FSAS offshore monitoring data for DA levels in king scallops from July 1998 to March 2004. Data on episodes where DA concentrations exceeded the regulatory level of 20mg/kg were reviewed to attempt to correlate environmental variables. The aim of this study was to develop a time-course model to predict the levels of DA in scallops over time, based on other empirical variables, allowing the development of a decision tool to inform future monitoring and end product testing of DA in king scallops.
At the time this study was commissioned, the legislation required FSAS to close offshore king scallop fishing grounds (known as offshore boxes) when levels of the biotoxin domoic acid (DA) were at or exceeded the 20mg/kg regulatory level. In order to re-open these offshore boxes FSAS required two negative samples (i.e. below 20mg/kg) at least seven days apart. In order that the re-sampling of closed boxes could be targeted to periods when the DA concentrations were likely to have decreased below the regulatory level, a risk assessment was carried out.
This project looked at the DA patterns over time in each individual offshore box or groups of boxes to establish the time taken for potentially hazardous levels of DA in king scallops to fall below the regulatory limit. The work was conducted in parallel with FSAS-funded project S02020, which employed an alternative risk based approach to the Scottish offshore monitoring programme for DA in king scallops.
<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>.