Shellfish Review: Options for changing classification determinations

Closed 19 May 2017

Opened 17 Feb 2017

Results updated 18 Oct 2017

We would like to thank all stakeholders that took the time to provide their considered views in relation to this consultation. 

We have published a work plan to deliver a more efficient and effective suite of official controls in the shellfish sector.  This was outlined in the FSS Board paper published in August 2017.

We have set up a Shellfish Classification and Monitoring Industry Forum to progress this work and hope to achieve appropriate change through collaboration and innovative approaches.  Our first meeting took place in October 2017 and terms of reference will be published shortly.




Food Standards Scotland is the competent authority for the determination of harvesting area classifications.  This process is currently undertaken on an annual basis with the classification year running from April to March.  Provided there are no prolonged and significant changes in year that classification usually remains static for the duration of that period.

Classifications which are current are likely therefore to run until 31st March 2017, and work is underway to determine classifications for the 17/18 season.  Harvesters should expect to receive a copy of the draft document early in 2017. 

Following feedback from some sectors we are considering changes to the way in data is brigaded for classification purposes with a view to making the decision making process more transparent and to consider the practicability of moving towards a more responsive ‘live’ system for areas classified under EC Regulation 854/2004 as ‘A’ and seasonal ‘A/B’ areas. 

Please see attachment for full details and draft protocol at Annex A


Why your views matter


The protocol contained within this consultation outlines a draft ‘real time’ classification process which means that classifications would be more likely to change in-year based on results received. 

The purpose of this consultation therefore is to provide an opportunity for shellfish harvesters and other interested parties to consider the practical application of such a system. This could involve the collection of additional samples by the harvester and there are prompts for such action outlined in the protocol itself.  Feedback from this exercise will inform  the classification process that will apply in 2018/19.  FSS may consider that it remains appropriate to continue to provide annual classifications and if so will also ensure that those protocols are updated and shared accordingly. 

In any case whilst the classification system remains a wholly FSS function, an ‘A’ classification does not guarantee that end product standards will be met on all occasions and on that basis we believe that considerable amounts of E.coli testing is undertaken by harvesters already.  As such this consultation provides an opportunity for harvesters to consider the ways they might be able to supplement the official control programme with their own samples provided certain conditions are met.  These samples can then be used to help FSS make classification determinations irrespective of the system applied. 

Please note this consultation period has been extended by 1 week and will now close on 19th May 2017.

What happens next

Your views and responses would be most welcome.  In your response, please describe the capacity in which you are responding e.g. as a shellfish harvester, processor, local authority or laboratory etc.

Please see Annex 2 for further details on how we handle consultation responses.  Annex 3 contains a consultation feedback form and Annex 4 contains a Public information form, which you will need to fill in if you do not want your details to be made public when responding to this consultation.

Thank you on behalf of Food Standards Scotland for your assistance and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


  • Food Producer
  • Fisherman
  • Commerical Food Testing Laboratory
  • Law Enforcement
  • Government
  • Public analyst laboratory
  • Commercial food testing laboratory
  • Government department
  • Local authority
  • Primary producer
  • Scottish Government
  • FSA
  • Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health


  • Microbiological safety of food
  • environmental monitoring
  • foodborne illness
  • technical implementation
  • information storage
  • food safety
  • regulation
  • food
  • enforcement
  • primary production