The information in the archive was published by MAFF, Department of Health and the Scottish Executive before 1 April 2000 when the Food Standards Agency was established.
Fish and Shellfish Food Hygiene Controls - A Summary
European legislation lays down controls for producing and handling fish and shellfish. This legislation is implemented in Great Britain by the Food Safety (Fishery Products and Live Shellfish) (Hygiene) Regulations 1998 (as amended). The Joint Food Safety and Standards Group (JFSSG) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of Health is the competent authority for these Regulations. Local authority environmental health departments are responsible for their enforcement.
Countries outside the EU must be approved before they can export fishery products and shellfish to Member States. The Competent Authority in these countries must provide guarantees that controls are in place to ensure fish and shellfish are produced under conditions equivalent to those operating in the EU. Specific import conditions have been established for a number of individual countries.
The inspection and approval of establishments is a cornerstone of the legislation. A database of approved establishments in those countries outside the EU for which specific import conditions have been set is contained on this website. Any enquiries on this should be addressed to the contact below.
The Regulations require shellfish production areas to be classified according to the degree to which the shellfish are contaminated byE coli or faecal coliforms. The classification of each area determines whether or not shellfish require treatment before being placed on the market. Shellfish from commercial production areas are monitored, usually on a monthly basis, by local authorities. The monitoring data is reviewed annually and MAFF issue a list of classified areas for England and Wales. The classification comes into effect on 1 September each year. Similar classifications are carried out in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The current classification for England and Wales can be found at the MAFF Website or a copy can be obtained from the contact below.
Shellfish harvesting areas are monitored for marine biotoxins through a programme of regular sampling and testing which is carried out under the Regulations. These toxins, which are produced by naturally occurring algae, can accumulate in shellfish to levels which can cause food poisoning in humans. The Regulations provide maximum permitted levels for paralytic shellfish poison (PSP), diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) and amnesic shellfish poison (ASP). When the toxins are found to exceed these limits harvesting restrictions are imposed. The monitoring programme has shown that shellfish taken from harvesting areas in England and Wales can contain marine biotoxins at very low levels. Occasionally, levels exceed the limits and harvesting is restricted in the affected area. Liaison between JFSSG, local authorities and local industry ensures that any restrictions operate effectively.
The Food Safety (Fishery Products and Live Shellfish) (Hygiene) Amendment (No 2) Regulations 1999 came into force on 30 June 1999. These Regulations introduce charges for hygiene inspections of fishery products landed by EU vessels and fishery products entering preparation and processing establishments
For further information and for general enquiries for MAFF please contact either 0171 238 5888 or 0171 238 5883. Fax: 0171 238 6745.
For further information and for general enquiries for DOH please contact either 0171 972 5686 or 0171 972 5075. Fax 0171 972 5142.
This page last updated 24 November 1999