Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

July 29, 2005 08:00 ET

What you Need To Know Before Harvesting Shellfish This Summer

Canadian Food Inpsection Agency Food Safety Fact Sheet Attention: Environment Editor, Food/Beverage Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor, Travel/Tourism Editor OTTAWA/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 29, 2005) - NOTICE TO FOOD EDITORS

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is issuing a food safety fact sheet: What you need to know before harvesting shellfish this summer to remind consumers about safe shellfish harvesting.

Bivalve shellfish (also known as molluscs) are an excellent source of protein, are high in essential minerals, and low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Bivalve shellfish have a hinged two-part shell. They include oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and cockles.

Bivalve shellfish are highly sensitive to the quality of their marine environment. They feed on microscopic plants that can sometimes produce marine biotoxins, which can build up in their tissues. Eating shellfish with high levels of these biotoxins can lead to serious and potentially fatal illness. Bacteria, viruses, metals and contaminants may also build up in the tissues of bivalve shellfish and cause food safety concerns for humans.

The attached fact sheet can also be viewed, along with additional food safety information, on the CFIA's Web site at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Thanks for helping us get this important food safety message to consumers.

For more information, to speak with a Canadian Food Inspection Agency food safety spokesperson, or to arrange a media interview, you can contact:

Atlantic: Noëlla LeBlanc 506-851-3331
Ontario: Margaret Boyd 519-826-2915
Quebec: Jean-François Bolduc 514-283-3815 (253)
West: Ruth Anne Partridge 403-292-6733

or

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Media Relations in Ottawa at (613) 228-6682
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Media Relations: 613-990-7537
Environment Canada Media Relations: 819-953-4016

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What You Need To Know Before Harvesting Shellfish This Summer

Bivalve shellfish (also known as molluscs) are an excellent source of protein, are high in essential minerals, and low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Bivalve shellfish have a hinged two-part shell. They include oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and cockles.

Bivalve shellfish are highly sensitive to the quality of their marine environment. They feed on microscopic plants that can sometimes produce marine biotoxins, which can build up in their tissues. Eating shellfish with high levels of these biotoxins can lead to serious and potentially fatal illness. Bacteria, viruses, metals and contaminants may also build up in the tissues of bivalve shellfish and cause food safety concerns for humans.

What can I do to protect myself and my family?

·Be cautious when harvesting bivalve shellfish. It is your responsibility to call your nearest Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) office (listed in the local telephone directory) to find out which areas are assigned as "open" for bivalve shellfish harvesting. An "open" area refers to a safe harvest area that is subject to monitoring and testing, and where harvesting is a legal activity. When an area is officially "closed," it is illegal to harvest bivalve shellfish in that area for any purpose, unless a special licence is issued.

·Updates on the opening and closing of harvesting areas are communicated to the public though local media, notices posted in closed areas, and information provided by local DFO offices.

·Purchase bivalve shellfish only from suppliers you trust and those that have harvested from open areas approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

·Bivalve shellfish should be refrigerated or frozen until consumption.

·Cooking bivalve shellfish does not always destroy toxins or other contaminants. Properly cooked shellfish can still be toxic.

·Anyone who feels ill after eating bivalve shellfish should immediately seek medical attention.

·Bivalve shellfish can have high levels of marine toxins during any given month, depending on environmental conditions.

·Bivalve shellfish poisoning can also occur in other countries. Tourists should be cautious when consuming bivalve shellfish abroad.

For more information on food-borne illness and safe food handling practices, visit the CFIA's website at www.inspection.gc.ca

To find out which bivalve shellfish harvesting areas are open, call your nearest DFO office listed in the blue pages of your local telephone directories. /For further information: Atlantic: Noella Leblanc 506-851-3331
Ontario: Margaret Boyd 519-826-2915
Quebec: Jean-Francois Bolduc 514-283-3815 (253)
West: Ruth Anne Partridge 403-292-6733
or
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Media Relations: 613-990-7537
Environment Canada Media Relations: 403-292-6733/ IN: ENVIRONMENT, FISHERIES, FOOD, HEALTH, TRAVEL

Contact Information

  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency Media Relations, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Primary Phone: 613-228-6682