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The Occurrence of Marine Biotoxins and Risk of Exposure to Seafood Consumers in Ireland

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ensuring the safety of Irish shellfish is of paramount importance and continuous monitoring of shellfish produce for the presence of marine biotoxins is essential to reduce the risk to the consumer.

Marine biotoxins are poisonous substances, which can accumulate in shellfish (and in certain fish), mainly as a result of feeding on plankton containing toxins. As a consequence, the shellfish industry must be supported by a robust monitoring programme so that consumers, both in Ireland and in other countries, can have confidence that the Irish shellfish they are purchasing is a safe product and that it meets the required legal health standards.

This report describes the risks posed by commonly encountered and novel, or emerging toxins, and describes the monitoring regimes for harmful algal blooms and for marine biotoxins in shellfish currently in place, aimed at controlling these risks. The results of monitoring programmes for the period 2011 to 2013 are presented and a regulatory maximum level exposure assessment scenario for consumers of shellfish in Ireland is provided.

In general, the existing monitoring programmes and regulation of production in shellfish producing areas provide adequate protection against outbreaks of shellfish toxicity among consumers of shellfish in Ireland. However, the continuing success of this programme depends upon further research and monitoring to identify alterations in the geographical or temporal distribution of existing harmful algal blooms or the emergence of novel toxin-producing harmful algal blooms in Irish shellfish producing areas.

Recommendations are made relating to research, regulation and enhanced monitoring.

Report cover