The Marine Institute carries out a range of seafood safety programmes to ensure that Irish seafood products supplied to National and International markets are of the highest quality regarding food safety standards. This monitoring complies with a range of EU law as well as national requirements. This work is carried out in conjunction with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine . Current programmes carried out by the Marine Institute include Shellfish Biotoxins, Veterinary Drug Residue monitoring in farmed Fish, Shellfish Microbiology and Chemical Pollutants.
Molluscan shellfish such as mussels and oysters are filter feeders. From time to time they can accumulate naturally occurring biotoxins which are produced by phytoplankton in the water. If shellfish containing such toxins were consumed, these biotoxins could produce sickness and unpleasant side effects. In order to protect consumer health, the Marine Institute is the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for marine Biotoxins and carries out a monitoring programme to ensure that toxic shellfish are not harvested and placed on the market.
The Marine Institute is also the NRL for monitoring bacterial and viral contamination of bivalve molluscan shellfish. The NRL is responsible for co-ordinating the activities of national laboratories involved in the monitoring of shellfish harvesting areas for classification purposes.
Environmental Contaminants in Fish and Shellfish
Fish and shellfish can accumulate chemical contaminants, for example mercury, cadmium and lead and persistent organic pollutants, in their tissues. In accordance with various EU legislation, monitoring of shellfish, farmed finfish and fish landed at Irish ports is carried out to ensure that contaminant concentrations are within safe limits for consumers.
Veterinary Drug Residue monitoring in farmed Fish
A residues programme, in accordance with EU Directives, involves the monitoring for residues of certain veterinary drugs used in treating live animals.The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and co-ordinate the programme in the Republic of Ireland, covering many diverse food groups from animal origins. The Marine Institute is charged with the responsibility of monitoring farmed fish.