Following the publication of Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/222 the responsibilities of the EURL for Monitoring Bacteriological and Viral Contamination of Bivalve Molluscs at Cefas have been transferred to the EU Reference Laboratories for the analysis and testing of zoonoses (salmonella) (https://www.eurlsalmonella.eu/), the EU reference laboratory for Escherichia coli, including verotoxigenic E. coli (vtec) (http://old.iss.it/vtec/), and the EU reference laboratory for foodborne viruses https://www.livsmedelsverket.se/en/production-control-and-trade/eurl-foodborne-viruses). The EU reference laboratory for the monitoring of marine biotoxins has taken over the activities related to the classification and monitoring of production areas for bivalve molluscs (http://www.aecosan.msssi.gob.es/en/CRLMB/web/home.html. Information on Cefas’ International Reference Laboratory activities can be found at https://www.cefas.co.uk/centres-of-excellence/

Introduction

Bivalve filter feeding shellfish such as oysters, mussels, clams, cockles, etc, may become contaminated with human bacteria and viruses if grown in sewage polluted waters. Such contaminated shellfish may cause outbreaks of infectious disease when consumed raw or lightly cooked. Consequently, many countries enact legal controls that govern the sanitary conditions required for growing and placing on the market of bivalve molluscs. In the European Union requirements relevant to the microbiology of bivalve molluscs are contained within the EU Food Hygiene Regulations.

To assist in the uniform application of these sanitary controls, and to encourage the development of new procedures for tackling contamination of bivalve shellfish, a network of expert Reference Laboratories for monitoring bacteriological and viral contamination of bivalve molluscs has been established across the EU. Information on the designation and responsibilities of reference laboratories is contained within Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health welfare rules. This regulation designates the Cefas Weymouth laboratory as the co-ordinating European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) and requires each European Member State to designate a National reference laboratory (NRL) to work with the EURL and to co-ordinate activities in their country. Contact details for each NRL are available from the relevant page of this web site. (Laboratory Network).