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Minutes of the Molluscan Shellfish Safety Committee - 21st October 2021

Date: 21/10/2021
Location: Videoconference

  • FSAI: David Lyons (chair), Christine King (minutes)
  • SFPA: Sarah Buckley, Brian Nolan, Gary McCoy, Miche├íl O’Mahony
  • MI: Dave Clarke, Patrick Costello, Conor Duffy, Sinead Keaveney
  • IFA: Teresa Morrissey, Finian O’Sullivan
  • BIM: Vicky Lyons
  • IW: Clare Cremin, Mark Dowling, Carla McNeil
  • EPA: Liam O’Suilleabhain
  • HSE: Paul Hickey
  • Industry: Pat Mulloy, Tristan Hugh-Jones, John Harrington
  • Apologies: Richard Donnelly (BIM), Joanne Gaffney (BIM), Aileen O’Sullivan (SFPA), Johnathon Kelly (MI)

Introductions

THJ introduced himself to the group as an oyster farmer from Cork
GMcC Introduced himself as the new National Shellfish Monitoring Manager, which he is taking over from BN
CMcN introduced herself and advised that she is in attendance in place of Kate Harrington who has left Irish water. CMcN works on wastewater strategy.

1. Minutes and matters arising from the last meeting (08th August 2021)

The previous minutes were reviewed and agreed. DL advised that they will be posted on the FSAI website in 7 days and comments can be submitted in the meantime.

2. Standing Items

2 a. Brexit

DL noted that we are moving away from the term ‘Brexit’ and replacing it with discussions around ‘import controls’ as the focus is now shifting to how we manage the movement of food products to and from Ireland. DL advised that the FSAI have no further updates on this topic other than what has been reported in the media. DL noted that various agencies have been running events and webinars on the topic of Brexit and import controls over the past few months and are continuing to do so.

MOM gave an update on current UK policy, focussing on current requirements, requirements from 01 January 2022 and 01 July 2022. MOM has provided a separate document summarising this update which will be circulated along with the minutes. MOM noted that UK import and transit requirements are a matter for UK policy. The document provided is an attempt to set out current understanding of UK import policy however it is important to note that certain aspects remain unclear. There are ongoing active attempts by Irish Authorities to clarify requirements particularly in the area of live bivalve molluscs.

TM queried if inspections are required to obtain animal health certs? THJ stated that his company are currently receiving inspections for each consignment for export. JH noted that the Dutch authorities have a successful model for inspection in relation to issuing health certs that could be considered by ROI.

PM queried whether health certs from the 01st of July will have to be physical or will electronic certs be sufficient. MOM noted that currently physical certs are required to travel with each consignment however they are trying to push for an electronic cert system.

MOM committed to giving a seminar for mollusc exporters when the UK policy becomes clearer. It was suggested that it might be beneficial to include this in the IFA Aquaculture AGM in the new year. THJ noted that this would be helpful and thanked MOM for the information provided so far.

2b. Update on Shellfish Monitoring Co-ordination (SFPA)

BN gave an update on shellfish monitoring and provided the below report and annex’s.

Official monitoring of Classified Bivalve Mollusc production areas in Ireland

1138 shellfish samples were submitted by SFPA and Loughs Agency as part of the official monitoring of Classified Bivalve Mollusc production areas in Ireland.

A further 32 samples were submitted under a series of bacteriological surveys as part of the Sanitary Survey reports for Dungarvan, and as part of a preliminary classification programme for the following areas:

 

  • Broadhaven: - Pacific Oysters 8 x samples
  • Ballinakill: - Native Oysters 10 x samples
  • Clew Bay: - Native Oysters 14 x samples
  • There were a total of 38 out of range results detected by the classification monitoring programme to the end the end of Sept 2021, approximately 3.3% of samples taken.

This is currently a reduction on the amount detected during the same period of 2020 and 2019.

 

Biotoxin Sampling Frequency wef 01 August 2021

  • Weekly sampling frequency for Mussels on all coasts.
  • Fortnightly sampling frequency for Scallops from classified areas.
  • North West Coast: Donegal Harbour – Weekly sampling frequency for all species.
  • West Coast: Killary Approaches: - Weekly sampling frequency all Razor species.
  • South West Coast: Castlemaine, Kenmare and Bantry Bays – Weekly sampling frequency all species.
  • All other production areas - Monthly sampling frequency for all shellfish other than Mussels
    • DC noted that biotoxin sampling frequency for Donegal, Killary and the South West are under review and will likely revert back to monthly sampling from next week. 
     

PM queried whether classification samples need to be taken from both Clew Bay North and South. BN advised that samples continue to be taken from both areas as this is in line with the sampling areas for the biotoxin monitoring programme.

2 c. Toxicity Summary Report including Production Area Closures (MI)

PC presented the MI Toxicity Summary Report

All site closures from July 2021 have been due to DSP above the regulatory level.

2 d. Management Cell Decisions

Castlemaine Harbour – A MC Decision was taken to place all species within Castlemaine Harbour on a Closed status due to M.edulis concentrations observed on the 5th July just below regulatory levels at 796μgSTXdiHCl equivalents/kg. The closure was in place for one week and placed on Closed pending the following week and on Open status due to decreasing concentrations from 19th July.

Inner Bantry – M. edulis samples from Bantry Middle, South Chapel, and Newtown, though submitted from 27th September were not received by MI for analysis, therefore a MC decision was taken to place all 3 classified production areas on Open status in the absence of shellfish samples being analysed.

3. Microbiology and Virology

SK noted that the BIM risk management project for Norovirus has recommenced this month, which is a continuation of the Norovirus programme for the Oyster Packers Group.

SK noted that last winter was unique as very low/no Norovirus was identified in production areas, due to the increased public health measures in place to control COVID-19. However, society has since reopened and reports of other viruses, such as Norovirus, in the community have been received. SK advised the Oyster Packers Group to operate a weekly testing schedule for this month.

MOM noted that there has been no further mention of the EU proposed NoV limit in the last 18 months. There is an upcoming meeting to discuss EU safety standards for LBMs s it may be mentioned at this, however no agenda has been received to date.

4. Biotoxin Code of Practice Review

DL noted that DC has provided comments on the Biotoxin COP. The COP along with the comments will be circulate to the group for review. Comments are due within 14 days. The COP will then be updated and the final draft will be reviewed at the next MSSC.

5. Update on Scallops

DL noted that there has been no update on the court case relating to scallops. MOM noted that the Commission requested an EFSA opinion on the shucking of scallops and EFSA have since published two opinions one on Lipophilics and the other on Domoic Acid, which are leaning in favour of the use of shucking for the safety of scallops. The Commission my decide to amend legislation based on this.

6. AOB

6a. Changes to Regulation (EC) 853/2004 applicable to LBMs imposed by Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1374

BN provided the following briefing on changes to Annex 3 section 3 of Regulation (EC) 853/2004:

  • Comm Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1374 dated 12 April 2021 has introduced a number of significant amendments to Reg (EC) 853/2004.
  • The amendment permits re-immersion of LBMs in a natural site as long as it’s classified, and that the classification is the same as the classification of the production area from where the LBMs were initially harvested from.
  • It maintains the requirement that conditioning is only permissible for A class LBMs and only in A class waters.
  • It captures the actions of Intermediary operators splitting or grouping LBMs from different batches into new batches.
  • Of particular note for such operators are as follows:
    • 1. Intermediary Operators must now complete a new shellfish registration document.
    • 2. The details of the original harvester/gatherer, the date of original harvesting and the location from where the LBMs were originally harvested from must be included in the new shellfish registration document.
    • 3. The location and classification where the intermediary operator either conditions or re-immerses the LBMs must be recorded.
     
  • Intermediary Operators must be Registered (with or without a premises) only if they handle wash and store LBMs at ambient temperature.
  • Approved if they have a cold store or conduct the activities of splitting or grouping batches of LBMs.
  • Intermediary operators must be approved to condition LBMs or re-immerse LBMs.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1374 points towards a common design for EU Shellfish Registration Document.
  • Ireland’s Shellfish Registration Documents (provided by SFPA) require significant amendments to capture all the requirements of the activities of Intermediary operators

MOM added that this Regulation creates a requirement for more information to be declared in certain areas, which will improve traceability of shellfish.

6 b. Changes to An Post and new postage labels

An Post will no longer be supplying SFPA with postage labels for samples. SFPA will now be printing their own labels at each port office. These labels will be scanned at An Post and charged at the point of scanning. DC queried whether these new labels will still be able to be sued on An Post’s track and trace system. BN noted that they will, but all will be traced back to the SFPA port office where the label was printed. Looking at ways in which the SFPA will be able to identify what labels were given to each producers.

6 c. Management Cell

TM noted that there can be confusion around management cell decisions and when they are final. She requested updated contact details for all those on the Management Cell to be circulated, along with the Management Cell process. DL agreed that this would be looked at and circulated.

All members on the call thanked BN for his contribution to the MSSC and his work in this area over the past number of years as he steps down from this role.

The next MSSC will take place in Q1 of 2022, dates for all 2022 MSSC’s will be circulated early in the new year.