New tests carried out for the Food Standards Agency Scotland have shown that commercial processing of scallops does not reduce the levels of toxins which cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP). Some representatives from the scallop fishing industry have claimed in the past that their processing procedures would reduce the levels of toxins in scallops and that the existing bans were therefore over-precautionary.But when tests were carried out on commercially processed scallops the results were almost identical to those from scallops analysed by the Fisheries Research Services (FRS) Marine Laboratory under the usual ASP testing procedures. In two of the three tests, commercially processed scallops actually produced higher results. The Food Standards Agency Scotland has consistently argued that commercially processed scallops would not produce lower toxin levels but agreed to carry out the tests following a recent meeting with the industry. The Agency asked the FRS Marine Laboratory to carry out the comparative tests on its behalf.Dr George Paterson, Director of the Food Standards Agency, said:"These results finally lay to rest the claim that processing scallops reduces the toxins in the individual edible parts of scallops. Scallops taken from a closed area of water and commercially processed would still be a danger to public health." The tests carried out by the FRS Marine Laboratory involved taking scallops from areas closed to fishing and comparing three samples of commercially processed scallops with three samples analysed under normal testing procedures. All the results produced levels of ASP which exceeded the maximum permissible limit and in two of the three comparisons the commercially processed scallops showed higher levels of toxins.All the tests were independently observed and an independent company comercially processed the scallops.