Algal toxin course should help to ensure shellfish safety

A TWO-DAY workshop and training course on testing shellfish for algal toxins will take place at the NAFC Marine Centre on 17th and 18th September.

Shellfish producers and processors are invited to attend the course, led by Hans Kleivdal of Biosense Laboratories AS in Norway.

He will be accompanied by a team from FRS Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen and the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban.

As well as an overview of control measures to hinder the harvesting and processing of contaminated shellfish, the course will offer training on how to test for shellfish toxins with commercial kits.

The course is organised by the EU collective research project Spies-Detox – a collaboration between leading universities, government agencies, research laboratories and industry groups from the UK, Norway, Spain, Ireland and Greece.

The project focuses on the development of “early warning” tools for the detection of toxic algal blooms, and also hopes to remove algal toxins from contaminated shellfish to enhance food safety for shellfish products.

Dr Kleivdal said: “An important part of the project is to provide training to quality control personnel in the shellfish industry in the use of simple, sensitive and robust tests for the detection of algal toxins.

“Rapid testing for shellfish toxins on-site enables an immediate response to elevated toxin levels and will be useful for making sound decisions before shellfish harvest and during processing.

“While traditional testing methods for algal toxins are highly advanced and not suitable for on-site use, the recent development of simple, reliable and rapid test kits has made on-site toxin testing possible.

“This pro-active approach using preventative testing instead of traditional reactive monitoring programmes is the backbone of modern food safety management systems and ensures product safety in line with recent EU food legislation.

“In addition to the food safety aspect of rapid testing on-site, several operational and market benefits will arise from using these novel tools.

“The rapid confirmation of the toxin status of a landed shellfish batch will lead to a short turnaround time of live shellfish products and will avoid any further waste of effort if the batch is contaminated.”


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