FSA News Item, 31 August 2007
The Food Standards Agency has now agreed the classification of live bivalve mollusc production areas in England and Wales for the period 1 September 2007 – 31 August 2008.
The classification, effective from 1 September 2007, includes those areas in the Long Term Classification (LTC) system. All Class B production areas not included in the LTC system have been classified on an annual basis.
The Agency makes use of the expertise of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in Weymouth when determining the classification of shellfish production areas. Classification is undertaken in accordance with the standards set out in European Commission regulations.
The production areas are classified according to the results of the FSA-funded monthly microbiological sampling and testing programme, based on counts of E. coli bacteria per 100g of shellfish flesh. Production areas are placed in one of three categories; class A, B or C. Areas with levels of E. coli higher than class C areas are prohibited.
While the classification of a production area determines the treatment required before the molluscs may be marketed, all shellfish must meet the same standard (below 230 E. coli per 100g of flesh) before going on sale. It is the harvester's responsibility to carry out appropriate testing.