Foodwise (news articles)
01 June 2015
The Food Authority’s expertise in global shellfish safety issues was recently acknowledged when Anthony Zammit, Manager of the NSW Shellfish Program, co-chaired the 10th International Conference on Molluscan Shellfish Safety (ICMSS) held in Chile, 15–20 March 2015.
ICMSS is the world’s premier conference on shellfish safety and is attended by individuals from the seafood, public health, seafood quality assurance and algal bloom management sectors.
Regulators and researchers from 30 countries discussed seafood safety and current science on vibrios, viruses, biotoxins and shellfish restoration.
Key developments discussed at the conference included the determination of key drivers for large scale Vibrio illness outbreaks, improvements in understanding the dynamics of toxic algal bloom events leading to improved management strategies, new rapid methods for the quantification of paralytic shellfish toxins, improvements in the understanding of norovirus survival and breakthroughs in the use of male-specific coliphage (MSC) in the detection of municipal sewerage system failures.
In particular, the developments in understanding the relationship between MSC and human sewage pollution risk has the potential to improve food safety outcomes for shellfish consumers while minimising closure periods for industry. Improved assessment of the impact of sewage discharges through the monitoring of MSC levels can lead to faster re-opening of shellfish harvest areas after sewage spills.
Routine monitoring of MSC levels has been used in the United States to detect intermittent leaks, and work undertaken by the United States Food and Drug Administration has led to insights in the relationship between MSC levels and sewerage leaks. Determination of background MSC levels is the key, with significant deviations above background levels indicating a sewerage system leak or sewage treatment plant failure. There is a program of work to be undertaken in determining background MSC levels in NSW estuaries before this methodology can be applied.
Anthony was also recently appointed as a member of the international advisory committee for the next ICMSS Conference which is due to be held in Ireland in 2017.