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New Contracts for Shellfish Monitoring

SCOTLAND, UK - The Food Standards Agency has awarded contracts for services to support the official control shellfish monitoring programme in Scotland. The services were put out to open tender at the end of August 2011.

New contracts, which will commence on 2 April 2012, are being developed with the successful bidders.

For some of the services, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) will lead a partnership comprising of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), the Shetland Seafood Quality Control (SSQC), the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

Sample collection: Highland Council and Argyll & Bute Council will continue to collect shellfish and water samples. In Shetland, Orkney, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Fife, Hallmark Meat Hygiene Ltd will collect samples. No contract has been awarded in Dumfries and Galloway or in the North and South Ayrshire council areas. Alternative options are being considered.

Shellfish biotoxin analysis: services will continue to be supplied by Cefas.

E.coli analysis: Cefas will conduct analysis of shellfish flesh for E.coli. It will subcontract SSQC to continue to undertake E.coli analysis for Shetland and Orkney samples.

Phytoplankton: the phytoplankton monitoring programme will continue to be delivered by SAMS in the partnership coordinated by Cefas.

Chemical contaminants: Cefas will coordinate the sampling and analysis will continue to be performed Fera.

Depuration and sanitary surveys: no contract has been awarded for these services, and other options are currently being considered.

Elspeth Macdonald, head of policy and operations at the Food Standards Agency in Scotland, said: "I am pleased that we have now identified successful bidders for this work, which is essential to our statutory shellfish monitoring programme. We recognise the importance of shellfish to the rural economy in Scotland and the need to ensure that robust controls are in place to protect public health. For those areas where no contract has yet been awarded, we have procedures in place to ensure that public health protection is maintained."

Lucy Towers

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