The Marine Institute as the EU designated national reference laboratory for shellfish toxins and shellfish microbiology in Ireland have launched a new shellfish safety website. Incorporating a range of user friendly info-graphics and maps, the site will provide information on recent trends analysis as well as current status of shellfish production areas.

The new website has been launched to provide regulatory authorities, shellfish producers, processors, hospitality industry, public health officials and the general public with the most up to date information available.

The Institute carry out a year-round national testing programme to ensure that all shellfish are safe before being placed on the market for human consumption. “With over one hundred coastal aquaculture production areas farming a variety of shellfish species, and many more offshore areas being fished commercially, it is essential that an efficient and accurate method of communicating these test results is in place,” explained Mr. Joe Silke, Manager of the Shellfish Safety, Marine Institute.

The open status of shellfish production areas is necessary before the product can be placed on the market. This open status depends on clear tests being obtained for a comprehensive range of shellfish toxins, and in addition, harmful algal species from water samples must be tested on an ongoing basis. In addition microbiological classification status is assigned on the basis of ongoing testing.

“Placing shellfish on the market requires speedy testing and reporting laboratory results. The Institute has strived towards providing state of the art processes and this new website will provide current status and a range of extra information that was not previously online” added Mr. Silke.

All shellfish safety data are continuously compiled on databases at the Marine Institute and are essential to assign the appropriate ongoing status to the shellfish production areas. The new website will feature new information such as the progress of sample analysis through the lab, recent trends in toxin and harmful algal concentrations, and maps to indicate the national trends. Further features will be rolled out in the coming months but the first phase is now available at www.marine.ie/habs.

Source: Marine Institute

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