Chichester District Council is warning residents and businesses who collect clams and cockles from beds in the Prinsted area of Chichester Harbour that they could be harmful to health.
The warning relates specifically to clams and cockles. Analysis of tests carried out on samples gathered by the council's Health Protection team showed that they are carrying potentially harmful bacteria. As a result, the safety class of these beds has been temporarily downgraded.
The council is advising people not to gather cockles and clams for their own consumption from the Prinsted beds until further notice.
Food Hygiene Regulations require any food business that collects from this area to send any of the clams and cockles for specified heat treatment to kill off any bacteria.
"The bacteria found pose a serious risk to people's health and our advice to residents is not to collect any shellfish until further notice," says Councillor Roger Barrow, Cabinet Member for Environment at Chichester District Council. "Food businesses need to abide by strict regulations to ensure the safety of the public.
"We would like to reassure residents that our Health Protection team is working with CEFAS (The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and is closely monitoring the situation.
"More tests on clams and cockles from these beds are due to take place and the team is keeping its decision to downgrade the area under review. We will of course keep people updated but I would urge people to exercise extreme caution until we have further information. Any individual or food business that needs advice should contact our Health Protection team. "
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