FAO Media Centre: UN strengthens regulations on melamine, seafood, melons, dried figs and labelling
Seafood and viruses
Food hygiene in seafood, particularly for molluscs, such as mussels and oysters, have become a major food safety concern. The Commission adopted a set of preventive hygiene measures aimed to control food-borne viruses. Viruses are generally more resistant than bacteria and those transmitted by the faecal-oral route can persist for months in bivalve molluscs, soil, water and sediments. They can survive freezing, refrigeration, UV radiation and disinfection but are sensitive to heat.
Common food-borne viral diseases are caused by hepatitis A virus and norovirus. The Commission noted that the main hazard for the production of molluscs, such as oysters and mussels, was the biological contamination of the waters in which they grow.
It is therefore important to ensure the seawater quality of growing areas, the Commission noted. When there is a likelihood or evidence of viral contamination, closure of the area, destruction of contaminated molluscs and/or heat treatment before consumption of already harvested molluscs is recommended.