Annual report on the results of the Shellfish Official Control Monitoring Programmes for Scotland - 2018: Annual report on the results of the E. coli, biotoxin, phytoplankton and chemical contaminants Official Control Monitoring Programmes for Scotland - 2018

Rachel Parks, Sarah Swan, Keith Davidson, Andrew Turner, Ben Maskrey, Andy Powell, Charlotte Ford, R.G. Petch

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This report describes the results of the Scottish Official Control Monitoring Programmes delivered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and partners for the period 1st January to 31st December 2018. The programmes were delivered on behalf of Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the competent authority in Scotland for food safety and were aimed at delivering the testing required for the statutory monitoring of biotoxins, E.coli and chemical contaminants in shellfish and for the identification and enumeration of potentially harmful algal species in selected shellfish harvesting areas, as described in EC Regulations 854/2004, 882/2004, 1881/2006 and 2074/2005.
The co-ordination of the programme, its logistics, toxin analyses and the majority of E. coli analyses were conducted by Cefas, whilst phytoplankton analyses were performed by SAMS Research Services Ltd. (SRSL) in Oban, chemical contaminants analyses by Fera Science Ltd (Fera) in York and E. coli analyses for Shetland only by SSQC Ltd in Scalloway. These laboratories were contracted by Cefas under the scope of the ‘Shellfish Partnership’.
An overview of these programmes and their results are presented in the following sections of this report:
• Section 1: Toxin and phytoplankton monitoring programme
• Section 2: E. coli monitoring programme
• Section 3: Chemical contaminants monitoring programme
The Shellfish Partnership has been responsible for the delivery of these programmes since 2012. Until now, the results of each annual programme have been reported separately. At the request of FSS, the 2018 results have been combined into one single annual report.
A total of 3,975 shellfish samples and 1,305 water samples were collected for the purpose of the 2018 Scottish official control monitoring programmes. Samples collected between the 1st of January and 31st of March were collected by officers operating on behalf of several contractors appointed directly by FSS. Since the 1st of April 2018, sampling officers from Hall Mark Meat Hygiene (HMMH) have collected or arranged collection for all samples from all geographic locations, under a new contract arrangement with Cefas. Only 0.5% of the biotoxin samples, 0.7% of the water samples and 2.1% of E. coli samples
were rejected as unsuitable for analysis on arrival at the laboratories. All chemical
contaminants samples were suitable. All analyses followed the approved methods layed out in EU legislation and specified by FSS for the purpose of this programme. All methods were accredited to ISO17025:2005 standards at the testing laboratories. Amnesic shellfish poisoning toxins (ASP) were monitored in 794 samples, lipophilic toxins (LT) in 1,858 samples and paralytic shellfish
poisoning toxins (PSP) in 1,161 samples. 1,951 samples were tested for E. coli, 20 for heavy metals (lead, cadmium and mercury), 28 for PAHs and 13 for dioxins and PCBs. All results were reported to FSS’ specifications and met the required FSS turnaround times.
• 96.5% of all toxin results were reported within 1 working day of sample eceipt, 99.9%
within 2 working days;
• 100% of phytoplankton results were reported within 3 days of sample receipt;
• 100% of E. coli actionable results (‘outwith’) were reported within 3 working days of onset of analysis;
• 100% of E. coli non-actionable results were reported within 5 working days of onset of analysis;
• Chemical contaminant report produced by end May 2018.
The results of the monitoring programme are presented in each section of this report. In summary:
• 254 samples breached the maximum permitted limits (MPL) for lipophilic toxins
(OA/DTX/PTX group only) (see section 1.2);
• 21 samples breached the MPL for PSP toxins (see section 1.3);
• No sample breached the MPL for ASP toxins (see section 1.4);
• Outwith E. coli results were reported in 6% of the 1,946 analyses undertaken (see Table 19 for details);
• All chemical contaminants results were below the regulatory maximum limits (see section 3).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCentre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
Number of pages76
VolumeCefas contract reports: C7711 to C7715
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Publication series

NameSAMS Internal reports


  • Phytoplankton
  • Harmful Algae Bloom
  • shellfish toxicity
  • biotoxins
  • E. coli
  • chemical contaminants


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