2009/752 Overseas market access for shellfish
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2009/752 Overseas market access for shellfish


By Catherine McLeod

The oyster, scallop and mussel industries currently export product to the EU. Due to the periodic occurrence of Okadaic Acid (OA) and Saxitoxin (STX) group toxins in Australian shellfish the implementation of reduced regulatory levels would reduce the amount of product eligible for EU export. Exports of Australian abalone to the EU ceased in 2007, due in part to the enforcement of marine biotoxin regulatory limits set by the EC. The wild caught abalone industry is attempting to regain EU market access through determining alternate risk management procedures for marine biotoxins in abalone.

The European Commission (EC) requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess the current European Union (EU) limits for shellfish regarding human health and methods of analysis for various marine biotoxins, including newly emerging toxins. A critical recommendation of the ‘EFSA Opinions’ is that the regulatory limits should be significantly lower (more stringent) for both OA and STX.

The objectives of this study were to:

  1. Undertake a robust technical review of the EFSA risk assessments on STX and OA group toxins.
  2. Submit the technical review and a rationale for maintaining current marine biotoxin regulatory limits to the EC.
  3. Convene a working group to determine future steps required to mitigate potential lowering of marine biotoxin regulatory limits.