For Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials
Shellfish Sanitation Program
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Through the National Shellfish Sanitation Cooperative Program, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state regulatory agencies, and the shellfish industry work together to keep molluscan shellfish (such as oysters, clams, and mussels) safe for consumption by adhering to strict controls on their growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, and transport.
The cooperative program has four components to help keep contaminated molluscan shellfish out of the marketplace:
- Classifying growing areas based on water quality and other factors that indicate suitability for harvest
- Inspecting facilities that handle shellfish to ensure the use of proper sanitary measures
- Patrolling to deter illegal harvesting from prohibited waters
- Conducting laboratory testing and analysis of shellfish and water samples
The states take the lead in accomplishing the core components of the cooperative program and have the authority to enforce compliance with the program. They can issue or revoke licenses. They can embargo, confiscate, recall, or destroy potentially contaminated shellfish. And they can write citations, make arrests, and seize equipment and vehicles used to violate laws.
FDA’s seafood safety experts at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, MD, and the Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory in Dauphin Island, AL, along with FDA’s Regional Shellfish Specialists located throughout the United States, work closely with state authorities. For the shellfish specialists, much of their job is in the field providing training, guidance and technical assistance to help the states do their jobs.
Shellfish Sanitation Program Policy, Guidance and other Resources: