The Safety of Seafood Products
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Our laboratory efforts in seafood safety focus on enhancing the safety of molluscan shellfish.
Molluscan shellfish for human consumption are harvested from coastal estuaries and sounds. However, each year episodes of acute gastroenteritis are associated with the consumption of raw or poorly cooked molluscan shellfish. These illnesses are associated with agents naturally present in the aquatic environment (e.g. Vibrio vulnificus), agents introduced due to fecal contamination of surface waters (e.g. Salmonella spp.) and ground water, and agents introduced during processing (e.g. hepatitis A). Many of these illnesses can be prevented by limiting surface water contamination with fecal pathogens from residential, commercial and agricultural sources, careful monitoring and when necessary closure of shellfish beds, adherence to good work-place standards during processing and consumer education.
Our laboratory works with other university researchers and colleagues with state and federal agencies to improve our ability to detect pathogens in surface waters, enhance shellfish sanitation program development and educate workers and consumers about sound food handling practices.