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SFPA Issues a New Food Safety Fisheries Information Notice on the Management of Norovirus for Shellfish Producers

SFPA Issues a New Food Safety Fisheries Information Notice on the Management of Norovirus for Shellfish Producers

SFPA & FSAI Host Annual Food Safety Workshops

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) have today (Tuesday 27th February), published a new Food Safety Information Notice in relation to  implementing effective strategies to manage norovirus risks in oysters, with the aim of reducing the incidence of contaminated oysters in the market and minimising the occurrence of norovirus-related illnesses.  The publication of the notice coincides with the SFPA/Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) Annual Food Safety Worshops held in Clonakilty and Athlone on February 27th and 28th which includes a focus on norovirus and food incidents.

Norovirus, commonly known as the “winter vomiting bug”, is a significant cause of acute gastroenteritis often causing diarrhoea and vomiting. The virus is transmitted through the consumption of food or water contaminated with faecal matter or through contact with infected individuals or surfaces. It is prevalent in the community and can be present in discharges from even advanced wastewater treatment systems, which may not entirely eliminate norovirus.

Bivalve molluscs such as oysters are known to accumulate and concentrate norovirus. This poses a particular health risk as these shellfish are often consumed raw or lightly cooked, making them a potential source of infection.

The consumption of oysters contaminated with norovirus presents a significant public health risk. It is vital that Food Business Operators involved in oyster production are cognisant of this risk and implement appropriate management measures, especially during the high-risk winter period. These measures should be a part of their food safety management system, adhering to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles – further details on HACCP can be accessed here:

Currently, there is no regulatory limit for norovirus in legislation relating to shellfish. The SFPA would like to remind Shellfish Producers of the comprehensive guidance to assist in mitigating the risk of norovirus contamination in oysters, which was developed by the SFPA along with the FSAI, the Marine Institute, and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

The detailed guidance is available on the SFPA website at the following link:

Interim Guidance on the Management of Norovirus in Oysters by Shellfish Producers

This Guidance note was produced to assist, advise, and direct with risks assessments to ensure food safety protocols are fully implemented.

The FIN can be accessed here:

Please contact sfpafood& for further details on this guidance document.