Industry faces a range of regulatory requirements for storage and transport of live oysters, notably: ASQAP stipulates colder than 10°C after 24 hours;
· current AQIS Export Control (Fish and Fish Products) Orders 2005 indicate that live oysters should be stored at · NSW currently have a dispensation for colder than 25°C for 72 hours then colder than 15°C thereafter.
Apparent anomalies between the Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (ASQAP) and the Export Control Orders stimulated the submission of FRDC Application TM003: Microbiological validation of current storage and transport temperatures for Pacific oyster industries in Australia. The application was approved conditional on wider industry involvement. Subsequently, the New South Wales industry identified the above dispensation and asked that it be considered within the proposal.
A teleconference on Friday 23rd Feb with New South Wales, Tasmanian and South Australian industry representatives, NSW Food Authority and Seafood Services Australia considered a background paper canvassing the above issues; no representative of AQIS was available. The meeting determined that, as a prelude to deciding the scope of work designed to close information gaps on storage temperatures and times, a Hazard Identification be undertaken for Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata).
Hazard Identification is defined as: The identification of biological, chemical and physical agents capable of causing adverse health effects and that may be present in a particular food or group of foods.
It is an important aspect of both HACCP and risk assessment. HACCP Principle 1 involves listing potential hazards while Hazard Identification is the first of four stages in risk assessment for which, in effect, it represents a Go/No Go stage.
The aims of this investigation were to:
• Identify those microbiological hazards reasonably likely to occur in oyster harvest, storage and processing of Pacific and Sydney rock oysters.
• Document their involvement in outbreaks of illness for each species.
• Identify knowledge gaps which can be closed by research.
• Inform regulator and industry consultations.