Developing an Assurance Scheme for Shellfish and Human Health

A key issue constraining the sustainable growth of UK shellfish aquaculture is water quality and, in particular, the limited availability of high quality shellfish waters in many parts of the UK. The Developing an Assurance Scheme for Shellfish and Human Health (DASSHH) project is looking to address this and, as such, has the potential to benefit the entire UK industry.

DASSHH is facilitated by Seafish on behalf of the Shellfish Stakeholder Working Group (SSWG), which is chaired by the Shellfish Association of Great Britain (SAGB). It is seeking to develop an innovative risk-based approach to enable the production of high-quality shellfish that fully meets consumer safety and regulatory requirements, while recognising the variable water quality environment in which most UK aquaculture production occurs.

The project aims to:

  • Improve understanding of the sources of microbial contamination and how uptake by shellfish varies with a range of potentially predictable environmental factors, allowing producers to successfully manage and intervene to reduce the risk of contaminated product being harvested.
  • Assess the risk implications associated with microbial contamination and determine post-harvest measures that can be used to remedy or mitigate this risk so product is safe for consumption.
  • Develop a risk-based management system that compliments the current production area classification system, enables regulators and industry to cooperate by using a more flexible approach to the application of the regulatory framework and provides the shellfish industry with the ability to engage in real-time management of their harvesting operations.

DASSHH initially focused on a single project located in the Camel Estuary, Cornwall. However, its focus has now expanded to include activity in Conway and Menai East in North Wales, Burry Inlet in South Wales, and Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland. The projects in Cornwall and Wales are being progressed by the Shellfish Centre (Bangor University) and in Northern Ireland by Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Links have also been made with work in the Shetland Isles, Scotland, being led by Seafood Shetland.

The intended outcome for the project is to apply the research results, along with a review of application of the Official Control Regulations for classification and monitoring of shellfish areas, to form the basis of an assurance scheme that works in tandem with the existing regulatory framework and is approved by the relevant food standards agencies.

Further info

Find out more about the Shellfish Stakeholder Working Group (SSWG)

Contacts

For more information about the DASSHH project contact:

Eunice Pinn, Marine Environment Regulation Advisor
e: eunice.pinn@seafish.co.uk
t: 07876 035 723