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M&S customers feeling bloomin’ poorly

Scottish shellfish products flying off the shelves … into the bin


The second time in recent months that Scottish mussel products have featured in health scares.
The second time in recent months that Scottish mussel products have featured in health scares.

A few weeks ago the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported that a range of Scottish mussel-based products were being taken off the supermarket’s shelves after customers who bought them reported feeling ill. Customers who had the products at home were advised “not to eat them and to contact their local store for advice and a refund.” The packs affected were Mussels in Garlic, Mussels in White Wine and Mussels and Clams.

This is the second time in the past few months that Scottish mussel products have featured in health scares. In July, the FSA said that “unusually high levels of these naturally occurring toxins [algal blooms] which can cause acute food poisoning had been detected.” The FSA was also made aware that about 70 people in south-east England had reported symptoms of shellfish poisoning.

In June 1998 a total of 49 people who ate at two London restaurants suffered acute nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and feverishness lasting eight hours. All had been served dishes of mussels originating from the UK, including one who was made ill by mussel soup. Doctors diagnosed Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) arising from poisons called phycotoxins produced by small marine organisms. The June outbreak represented “the first incident for 30 years caused by phycotoxin contamination of UK shellfish”.

For a full report and assessment of the circumstances surrounding contamination of mussels and the possibility of a link between shellfish poisoning and untreated fish farm waste, see the October 2013 edition of Sandison’s Scotland. Your correspondent tried to contact Algy Bloom, right, a regular contributor to this column for comment but was told by his associates that he was far too busy to speak to anybody at the present time.

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