The consumption of shellfish and oysters carries a risk of illness due to the nature of the shellfish habitat. Outbreaks have been linked to both bacterial and viral infections.

There are several guidelines that are recommended in order to minimise risk:

  • Make sure you buy shellfish from a reputable supplier.
  • Check that oyster and mussel shells close when tapped, indicating that the animal is alive.
  • Discard any shellfish with open shells.
  • Check the smell and texture, as it should be clean and salty with brine.
  • Store at a safe temperature of 4°C.
  • Buy your shellfish as required and consume without delay.

A shellfish bed with commercial interest has a classified status that is managed by the Local Authority

To read more about shellfish classification, visit the Food Standards Agency website.

General Consumer Advice

Always check labels attached to food products and follow manufacturers instructions. Before ordering from a café, restaurant or takeaway, ensure sufficient enquiries are made about the dish and its suitability for your consumption. Always follow government guidance on foods that have an implication of greater risk. Follow specific advice if certain foods are intended for certain risk groups or individuals. Consumption and sourcing of food for/by the young, the elderly, mums to be, those who are immuno-compromised or suffering certain illnesses should always be with care.   

Finally, always check the food hygiene rating of a business before ordering. The National Food Hygiene Ratings are available to assist you in making an informed choice.

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