Western Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program

In most countries, shellfish aquaculture is heavily regulated, with mandated monitoring programs for the presence of potentially toxic phytoplankton species and shellfish toxins (biotoxins), to ensure the safety of shellfish for consumption.

In Australia, the Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program  (ASQAP) is a government-industry co-operative program designed to assure the food safety of shellfish, managed in accordance with its operational guidelines.  This ASQAP is designed to assure the food safety of shellfish for domestic consumers but also for the export market.

The ASQAP manual is comprised of the procedures and administrative practices to enable food safety programs to comply with the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and Export Orders (the Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program Export Standards)  as they relate to bivalve molluscs, including the schedule to Standard 4.2.1 of the Food Standards Code.

The Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program Export Standards comprise the ASQAP-based procedures and administrative practices necessary to meet legislative requirements prescribed by Orders under the Export Control Act 1982 and to satisfy the food safety expectations of importing countries. These Export Standards, therefore, encapsulate core criteria for determining the export-eligibility of shellfish intended for overseas markets.

 

The implementation of pre and post-harvest Manual standards is the responsibility of appropriate state and territory government agencies and industry.  Each state and territory divides this responsibility according to documented administrative and procedural arrangements.  The manual forms the basis upon which both the administration of state and territory managed shellfish programs and the implementation of producer based operational procedures are audited.

Within Western Australia, Manual standards are overseen by the Department of Health.  The Western Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (WASQAP) Manual and the Marine Biotoxin Monitoring and Management Plan (MBMMP) are the governing documents.  The MBMMP has been developed under the WASQAP to ensure regular industry monitoring within shellfish growing areas to gain a better understanding of the risk level and to mitigate the risk of contaminated shellfish. The management plan takes into account the inherent risk, the cost of managing the risk, while considering the legislative and financial burden on seafood producing businesses.

In partnership with the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development and the Aquaculture Council of Western Australia, Dalcon Environmental is developing the capacity to use rapid testing technologies for the qualitative and quantitative detection of biotoxins to support the Western Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program and the commercial shellfish growers of Western Australia. Please click here for more information on Dalcon Environmental’s biotoxin detection capability.

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