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Shellfish safety experts meet in New Zealand

19 March 2007

Shellfish safety experts from around the world have converged on Blenheim this week for the sixth International Conference on Molluscan Shellfish Safety (ICMSS).

The ICMSS, sponsored by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) and opened by Minister for Food Safety Annette King, runs from 18-23 March. More than 200 delegates are attending.

Phil Busby, NZFSA’s Senior Programme Manager (Seafood), says: “This conference gathers the international community of shellfish safety researchers, regulators and industry representatives to share information, learn about new technologies and techniques, and work toward international harmonisation of shellfish safety standards.”

The conference is also a platform for New Zealand scientists, regulators and industry to work with representatives from other nations and address common food safety issues that the international trade in shellfish is facing.

Says Phil: “Not only do we work together at the conference, but some delegates will also visit NZFSA, research institutes and laboratories while they are here.”

Phil says that New Zealand, which earns more than $250 million annually from exports of shellfish products, is actively involved and respected in the international shellfish community.

“New Zealand has a well-deserved reputation for being at the forefront of innovation and scientific expertise in shellfish safety. Because of this we often assist other countries and are involved in international standard setting meetings.

“Also, many countries are impressed by the way our industry actively participates in partnerships with the research institutes and NZFSA.

“Shellfish safety programmes can be prescriptive and onerous for the industry, but this has become necessary with the increasing spread of marine biotoxins and pollution of coastal waters.

“Our programme was completely revised in 2006, based on international best practice. This enables New Zealand shellfish to be eaten all over the world.”

The conference will address various issues affecting the shellfish community, including microalgae and microbial risk assessment, viral and biotoxin detection method advances, toxicology of biotoxins, post-harvest treatment and early warning systems for biotoxin and microbiological contaminants.

Keynote speakers, including Lahsen Ababouch, Chief of Seafood Trade at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, will also lead workshops on Vibrios, molecular methods for pathogen detection in shellfish, and international regulatory changes in marine biotoxin standards.

In addition to lectures and discussions, the delegates will also have the opportunity to visit and learn about shellfish safety practices for Greenshell mussel farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

Ends

For more information, visit the conference website at: http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/icmss07
All information on this website is subject to a disclaimer.
Contact for enquiries

New Zealand Food Safety Authority
68-86 Jervois Quay
PO Box 2835
Wellington
NEW ZEALAND

Phone: +64 4 894 2500
Fax: +64 4 894 2501

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