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Shellfish Classification

Background Information

  • EC Regulations 853/2004 and 854/2004 set out criteria relating to the commercial production and sale of live bivalve molluscs (clams, cockles, oysters, mussels etc) from classified production areas. These Regulations are law in the UK and are implemented by means of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
  • Data for shellfish waters in England and Wales is compiled by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) using the results of monthly bacteriological sampling carried out by Local Authorities. Production areas are then classified, by the Food Standards Agency, according to the E. coli levels in the shellfish sampled from the harvesting areas.
  • The classification determines the areas where shellfish can be collected from and how the shellfish have to be treated, after harvesting, to ensure that they are safe to eat.
  • Any live bivalve molluscs leaving an approved processing plant must be in packages bearing the health mark of the establishment (two letters followed by a number). Any business opening such a package must keep this label for at least 60 days for traceability purposes.


Classification Categories

  • A class - bivalve molluscs can be harvested for direct human consumption.
  • B class - bivalve molluscs can be marketed for human consumption after purification in an approved plant or after relaying in an approved class A relaying area or after being subjected to an EC approved heat treatment process.
  • C class - bivalve molluscs can be marketed for human consumption only after relaying for at least two months in an approved relaying area followed, where necessary, by treatment in a purification centre, or after an EC approved heat treatment process.
  • Prohibited areas - bivalve molluscs must not be subject to production or be collected.
  • Unclassified areas - bivalve molluscs must not be subject to production or be collected.

 

Gatherers

Anyone gathering live bivalve molluscs for commercial use from a "B" classified area must take them to an approved processing plant accompanied by a completed "registration document". Blank registration documents can be provided on request.