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Fishermen Warned To Test Scallops For Toxins

SCALLOP 1

7:29am 8th January 2015

Fishermen and merchants selling scallops in Weymouth are being reminded it's their legal duty to test what they catch for dangerous toxins.

The warning from Weymouth Port Health Authority comes after last year's scare in May - when an algal bloom in the Channel caused an ASP toxin to rise dangerously high.

Recent tests by the authority show toxins are still above the permitted level.

Paul Kimber, Chair of Weymouth Port Health Committee told Wessex FM: "Weymouth PHA officers working with the Cefas Lab will continue to monitor the overall toxin situation in regard to scallops and other filter feeding bivalve molluscs."

"This is part of a national public health control programme which the authority has been engaged with since the programme started some 15 years ago."

Levels of the toxin dropped throughout 2014 but Weymouth Port Health Authority want to make sure those in the industry keep meeting their legal requirements to regularly check their own batches for the toxin.

Algal blooms typically occur in the spring but can occur at other times as well, which is why the authority is encouraging constant checks.

Unfortunately, scallops do not easily excrete the toxin once it has been absorbed into the animal. This is why testing of all commercial batches of scallops now has to be routinely undertaken to ensure that they are safe to eat.

Divers are being advised that any scallops they gather around Weymouth could be dangerous if eaten. 

Discarding the gut and gut membranes (shucking) gives a reasonable measure of safety in respect of ASP toxin as it concentrates in the gut but other types of toxin, if present, may not be so easily removed.

FACTS ABOUT ASP POISONING:

ASP (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning) type toxin can cause neurological symptoms if consumed in sufficient quantity. These symptoms include dizziness, confusion, weakness, possible permanent short term memory loss and in very rare cases, death.

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