SCALLOPS caught off the Dorset coast are still showing signs of being affected by toxins.
The algal toxin incident which started in May which showed scallops caught in the sea off the Dorset coast to be affected by higher than permitted levels of ASP type toxin, continues.
Dorset authorities continue to work closely with the Food Standards Agency, the CEFAS laboratory, the Marine Management Organisation and the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority to monitor ASP levels in both whole and shucked scallops.
Whole scallop samples taken from the Lulworth Banks and Lyme Bay still show the toxin to be above the permitted level but samples of shucked scallops, for example, the muscle and roe of the scallops are showing levels of toxin which are safe for consumption.
Shucking, however, must only be done in approved processing establishments otherwise all toxin may not be removed and toxin from the scallop digestive system could contaminate food preparation surfaces and thereby other types of food prepared on those surfaces.
Scallop divers and others placing scallops on the market are legally required to test each batch for the presence of ASP toxin and only if the batch has a level less than 20 mg of domoic acid/kg of scallop flesh can it be marketed. There are DIY test kits which the industry can use for this purpose or a commercial lab such as the one at CEFAS Weymouth.
Casual gatherers of any type of bivalve molluscs (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops) currently picked up off the Dorset coast are warned that they could contain harmful toxin from the May bloom, although it is scallops that are the species of concern because scallops are particularly good at picking up the toxin but poor at excreting it.
Chairman of Weymouth Port Health Committee Cllr Paul Kimber said: “We have a duty to protect the safety of the public. The measures that have been put in place will ensure that consumers can continue to trust the quality of shellfish they consume and businesses can continue to operate safely.”
*ASP (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning) type toxin can cause neurological symptoms if consumed in sufficient quantity. These symptoms include: dizziness, confusion, weakness, permanent short-term memory loss and in very rare cases, death If you have any questions about this algal toxin problem please contact Weymouth Port Health Authority on 01305 838432 or email Porthealth@weymouth.gov.uk