Microbiological risks management

Monitoring programs, methods of analysis and harvested areas classification

Monitoring programs:

The monitoring of harvested areas is carried out by the DTARS (Délégation Territoriale de l'Agence Régionale de la Santé, i.e territorial commission of regional health agency) for recreatively-harvested areas and by Ifremer for professionally-harvested areas (that may as well be recreatively harvested in the case of wild areas).

Samplings for microbiological analysis are carried out once a month. E. coli is the followed-up parameter for analysis to evaluate the microbiological quality of harvested sites. This bacteria is naturally present in the digestive track of mammals and birds, and is indicative of a fecal contamination. Its unit of measurement is nb/100g CLI (meaning number of Escherichia coli per 100 grams of flesh and intravalvular liquid).

-    REMI monitoring program (IFREMER)

Ifremer has set up a Microbiological monitoring program for professionally-harvested areas (named REMI). Wild areas as well as shellfish farms are both sampled for this program. Wild areas may also be fished by recreational harvesters, and the REMI program supplements therefore the recreational monitoring program carried out by DTARSs.

-    DTARS networks

Some areas are only harvested recreationally and are subject to a sanitary monitoring program carried out by local DTARSs under certain conditions. Indeed, the area has to be easy to reach, quite abundant and regularly harvested for a monitoring point to be established.

Harvested areas classification:

After IFREMER and ARS Bretagne have proceeded to the analysis, the harvested areas are classified according to their quality, based on the professional classification but adapted to recreational harvesting.

In French regulations, Rural Code only informs that "recreational shellfish harvesting for human consumption can be practised, on professional harvested areas, only on quality A or B areas" (Art.231-43).

Indeed, unlike "professional shellfish productions", the classification of recreational sites are not regulated administratively. Moreover, recreational harvesters do not have access to professional purification systems such as relaying or purification basins.

Therefore, an unofficial classification scale has been created. It is specific to recreational harvesting, based on data collected during the past 3 years and on advice from specialists:

*Chair et Liquide Intervalvaire

The area quality is determined according to the percentage of microbiological thresholds overruns. A class is then assigned to the area, and is associated to an advice depending on the general sanitary level.

Thus, a recap sheet on health risks is created for each monitored area. This sheet displays the location of the site, its recommendation (allowed, forbidden site...), the species used for analysis, a  recap of the results with the sanitary quality of the area.

You will find these recap sheets on sanitary hazards by clicking the point of your interest in the "STATE of harvested sites" tab. For a better understanding of the recap sheets, please consult the descriptive sheet:

Descriptive sheetA recap sheet on sanitary risks is created for each monitored area in an attempt to provide the harvester with advice and information on the quality of the area. The following descriptive sheet describes the elements displayed by the recap sheet.
Improvement of water quality:

A lot of programs on various scales participate in the improvement of water quality. Their purpose is to reduce the concentration of several contaminants (nitrates, pesticides, germs...) in coastal waters. These actions cover diagnosis, the identification of most prolific sources, the renovation of treatment plants, the control of on-site sewage disposal systems, the management of good farm practice and the continuous improvement of on-site monitoring.

Microbiological contamination is thoroughly followed in SAGEs in particular (the "Schéma d’Aménagement et de Gestion des Eaux" are French planification documents whose purpose is to define the water management within a watershed) or in territorial contracts of watersheds.