Details of the action being taken to investigate a proposed change to the scallop testing regime for Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning are published today.

An ASP factsheet, which has been jointly produced by the Food Standards Agency and Fisheries Research Services (FRS) Marine Laboratory, aims to inform those who will be most affected by current work towards a proposed new scallop testing regime.

The factsheet details the work currently being undertaken by the Food Standards Agency and FRS Marine Laboratory and the procedures involved both in the UK and in Europe.

George Paterson, Director of the Food Standards Agency Scotland, said:

"The Food Standards Agency and FRS jointly decided to produce an ASP factsheet. Given the high level of interest, we felt that it was important to get a clear message on the detail and status of our proposals to all interested parties. We believe that the factsheet will provide this.

Tony Hawkins, Director of FRS, said:

"Staff at FRS Marine Laboratory have been working closely with the Food Standards Agency in response to the request to examine the levels of toxins in different parts of a scallop and has undertaken further extensive experiments to supplement existing data. This new information is a key factor in investigating a possible change to the testing system."

NOTES FOR NEWS EDITOR

  1. The Food Standards Agency is examining a possible change to the testing system for shellfish toxins in scallops following continued closures of scallop fisheries due to Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP).

  2. Scallops harbour toxins in different concentrations in their various parts and it is therefore possible to consider a system by which scallops can be harvested for the purpose of marketing those individual parts that do not pose a risk to human health.

  3. Changes to current practices have to be approved in Europe. The Food Standards Agency and the FRS are therefore working closely together and co-ordinating activities on a European level.

  4. The Food Standards Agency and FRS are keen that those who will be most affected by the proposed changes are kept up to date on current developments.

  5. The Food Standards Agency will shortly be consulting on possible enforcement controls with local authorities and industry.

  6. The factsheet will be sent to industry, local authorities, MSPs and Scottish MEPs within the next few days. A copy of the factsheet can be obtained by contacting the number below.

For further information, media should contact John Booth, Media & Communications Officer, on 01224 285120.