Illegal oysters were dumped in harbour

FISHERMEN trying to land illegal batches of shellfish were stopped in Shoreham Harbour.

Oysters harvested from unclassified waters were dumped when environmental health officers advised the boat not to land.

In a separate incident, a boat carrying scallops harvested from an area in the English Channel containing marine biotoxin was also advised not to land.

It left Shoreham Harbour and continued to Devon, where the scallops were seized by environmental health officers.

The food safety incidents came to light in a report to David Simmons, Adur Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing.

He and his counterpart on Worthing Borough Council are making a joint decision on the Food Safety Service Plan 2014/15, having been asked for their endorsement.

The full report also reviews the performance of the food safety service for Adur and Worthing in 2013/14.

It notes the information on the illegal shellfish came via the Government’s Marine Management Organisation and the French authorities. In both cases, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was informed.

Other food safety incidents dealt with in the period included 70 national food alerts, allergy alerts and product recall information notices from the FSA.

Paula Mitton, Adur’s food safety team leader, said: “Of these, most were warnings for information only but five required rapid action to be taken to contact local stockists to ensure that the affected foods were removed from the food chain.”

A total of 480 food premises inspections were planned for the 2103/14 period but three high-risk premises and 11 medium-risk premises were left outstanding. No explanation was given, except that two of the medium-risk premises were not trading at the time of the visit.

The team dealt with 61 complaints relating to unsatisfactory food, including mouldy and decomposed food, out-of-date food, foreign objects and other labelling issues.

There were a further 90 complaints regarding unsatisfactory hygiene within food premises – an increase compared with previous years. It was suggested the increase could be due to improved recording.

The table of enforcement activity showed 298 written warnings were issued, two hygiene improvement notices served and four premises accepted voluntary closure.

Mrs Mitton stated: “The service has maintained a commitment to providing advice and assistance to businesses on legal requirements and best practice.”

The annual micro-biological food sampling programme was restricted due to staff shortages. A total of seven samples, including pre-packed sandwiches from small retailers, soda water from public houses and herbs from ethnic food shops, were taken.

The report states: “Of these, the two water samples had an unsatisfactory result which required investigation.”

For next year, a new Eat Out Eat Well Healthy Eating Award is planned, to reward food outlets that provide health choices on their menus. The award, which aims to raise awareness of healthier options, will be valid for two years.