Farmed shell­fish in Ar­gyll is safe, says pro­ducer

The Oban Times - - News -

PEO­PLE in Ar­gyll and Bute have been warned to be care­ful when har­vest­ing wild shell­fish due to a high level of nat­u­ral tox­ins.

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil is­sued a warn­ing last week stat­ing that Loch Melfort and Seil Sound con­tained mea­sure­ments of al­gal tox­ins above the legally per­mit­ted level.

How­ever, a shell­fish farmer from Dun­beg wanted to clar­ify that pro­duce bought from farms is safe due to rou­tine test­ing.

Ju­dith Vajk, of Cale­do­nian Oys­ters, said: ‘ Har­vest­ing wild shell­fish can be dan­ger­ous un­less it is from a tested area. As shell­fish farm­ers, we have to jump through hoops to get our shell­fish sold. We are reg­u­larly tested for E.coli, norovirus and toxin lev­els, which are care­fully mon­i­tored.’

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are be­ing asked not to har­vest shell­fish from the con­tam­i­nated ar­eas.

The tox­ins ac­cu­mu­late in molluscs such as mus­sels, oys­ters, cock­les and ra­zor clams.

The alert comes as raised lev­els of Escheria coli (E.coli) bac­te­ria have been iden­ti­fied in Oi­tor Mhor Bay. A po­ten­tial risk of raised lev­els of E.coli has also been found at Dun­staffange, Ker­rera East, Loch na Cil­lie and Loch Rid­don.

This was dis­cov­ered due to mon­i­tor­ing work by Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­men­tal health team.

Mrs Vajk added: ‘It is around, but there are no farms there. It is all wild. If peo­ple go out and pick their own shell­fish, they have to be care­ful.

‘Our wa­ter is tested ev­ery month to check if the E.coli count has risen. I just know that there is no prob­lem in Loch Cr­eran.’

A spokesman for Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil said: ‘Eat­ing shell­fish such as cock­les, mus­sels, oys­ters and ra­zor fish from af­fected ar­eas can pose a risk to hu­man health.

‘No­tices to warn the pub­lic and ca­sual gath­er­ers have been posted along the shore. Com­mer­cial shell­fish har­vesters in th­ese ar­eas have been con­tacted by the coun­cil and steps taken to post­pone har­vest­ing un­til bac­te­rial lev­els sub­side.

‘Peo­ple are ad­vised to avoid eat­ing shell­fish from th­ese ar­eas un­til fur­ther no­tice as a pre­cau­tion. When lev­els sub­side, the warn­ing no­tices will be re­moved.’

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, con­tact the en­vi­ron­men­tal health team on 01631 567849. Food Stan­dards Scot­land can also be con­tacted on 01224 285100 or at https://www. food stan­dards. gov. scot/food-safety-stan­dards/ ad­vice-busi­ness-an d-in­dus­try/ shel lfish/shell­fish-re­sults.

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