Home Kent News Oyster company restarts harvesting after reports of widespread sickness

Oyster company restarts harvesting after reports of widespread sickness

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Original article from Kent Live

Harvesting has been allowed to restart at an oyster farm that was shut down following reports of people falling ill after eating shellfish.

The illnesses were possibly linked to a batch that was withdrawn by authorities on June 27.

Canterbury City Council, the Food Standards Agency and Public Health England started an investigation after the reports surfaced.

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A Canterbury City Council spokesman said: "A new notice has been issued, which does not prevent the harvesting or processing of oysters, but stops the supply and sale.

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"The supplier in question has been asked to review what went wrong and ensure its procedures and systems will prevent a problem from happening again.

"Allowing oysters to be harvested and processed allows everyone to ensure systems are operating correctly."

A spokesperson from Whitstable Oyster Company said they are working with Canterbury City Council to get their oysters back on the market, stressing none of their oysters have tested positive for norovirus.

They explained: "As of yet, none of our oysters have tested positive for norovirus and are within acceptable limits for e-coli as set by the government.

"There have been no traces of norovirus in any of our oysters over the past year."

The spokesperson also stressed the water company, Southern Water's activities and "continued use of combined sewer outflows do affect water quality and are an ongoing concern".

However, they insisted their "oysters are tested regularly for e-coli and norovirus, and all oysters harvested undergo a 42-hour purification process at our facilities at the East Quay".

"None of the results of those tests, conducted very recently and on the batch allegedly involved, have given any cause for concern,” they said.

This comes after the city council said no more oysters were distributed since the illnesses were reported, and "oysters distributed before they were aware of the illnesses have been withdrawn from the market".

"All oysters that were distributed are now passed their shelf life, there is no known further risk to consumers," the local authority added.

Official advice

The public is being advised to phone NHS 111 or the GP for advice if they have experienced vomiting or diarrhoea symptoms.

The council has issued advice to help people reduce their risk of infection.

They said: "It is vital to wash hands thoroughly using liquid soap and warm running water before and after handling food and after contact with any animals.

"It is also important to maintain food preparation practices to avoid infections and wash fruit and salad items before eating.

"Elderly people, pregnant women, very young children and people who have a weakened immune system should avoid eating raw or lightly cooked shellfish to reduce their risk of getting food poisoning."

Original Article