Since legislation does not define classification rules, ARS Bretagne and IFREMER have established an evaluation basis for the sanitary status of recreational shellfish gathering sites. This is modelled on the classification rules for commercial production areas (which are stipulated in EU Regulation 854/2004 of 29 April 2004).
The approach consists in assessing bacteriological quality based on the control results for the E. coli indicator in shellfish.
The sanitary status of beds is assessed using five quality categories: good, average, mediocre, poor and very poor, according to how a certain percentage of the bed scores in relation to the four quality thresholds for the E. coli indicator (230, 700, 4,600 and 46,000).
The calculation is also based on the control results of the last three years and is updated twice a year (in January and July).
Four possible sanitary recommendations for shellfish gathering
To facilitate the general public’s understanding, the evaluation comes with a sanitary recommendation which stipulates whether shellfish gathering is authorised without special restrictions, tolerated, discouraged or prohibited. The aim of this is to inform shellfish gatherers about the general sanitary condition of the bed:
- Is the sanitary status constantly good ?
- Is the sanitary status of shellfish occasionally impaired ?
- Is the sanitary status regularly poor ?