Our mission is to
help ensure that seafood is safe to eat.
We focus particularly on filter-feeding bivalve molluscs (eg,
oysters, mussels, scallops, clams, etc), which can bio-accumulate
both naturally occurring and man-made contaminants.
Our statutory food safety programmes are funded by the
Food Standards Agency (FSA). Alongside our partnership with the
FSA, we work with local food authorities to ensure that bivalve
mollusc production areas are:
Our technical inspection programme for shellfish purification
plants help to ensure that they are operated according to best
These actions are all requirements under European food safety
Laboratory testing is an important element of food safety
controls. We provide comprehensive testing services for algal
toxins in shellfish and potentially harmful phytoplankton in
seawater. We also provide specialist testing for virus and marine
vibrio species in the event of human health outbreaks
or other emergencies involving bivalve shellfish.
European food safety legislation requires member states to
designate a National Reference
Laboratory (NRL) to:
- co-ordinate laboratory testing
- ensure testing quality
- provide scientific support.
The European Commission designates a European Union Reference
Laboratory (EURL) to co-ordinate the activities of NRLs and to
give scientific support to the Commission. We have been designated
the NRL (by the FSA) and the EURL for bacteriological and viral
contamination of bivalve molluscs.
Pollution problems in shellfisheries are best tackled at source.
We work with a network of partners, including the Environment
Agency, to ensure that the risks from pipeline discharges and other
pollution sources are controlled, and to assist compliance with
European water quality legislation.
To complement our statutory activities we also undertake a range
of R&D work. Areas of current interest are:
- methods for detecting and characterising pathogens such as
noroviruses and vibrios
- microbiological and algal toxin reference materials
- microbial source tracking
- chemical methods for monitoring for algal toxins.
Our science is utilised to support both public- and
private-sector customers. If you feel we may be able to help,
please contact us at SHS@cefas.co.uk.