England and Wales: classification and monitoring
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) sets out the overall policy for the monitoring and classification of shellfish harvesting areas and makes all final classification decisions (from their London and Cardiff offices).
There are two classification systems in England and Wales:
- the annual or "temporary" classification system
- the long-term classification (LTC) system.
New areas are initially given annual/temporary classifications until they meet the criteria for an LTC. Harvesting sites that do not meet LTC criteria are automatically classified under the annual/temporary classification system.
All new harvesting areas are required to have a full sanitary survey prior to the preparation of a sampling plan. The plan identifies appropriate monitoring points for the site(s) in question.
To obtain a provisional classification recommendation producers need to allow at least three months for the completion of the sanitary survey and production of a sampling plan, followed by a minimum of three months' actual sampling.
Local food authorities take samples from shellfish harvesting sites and send them to regional official control laboratories for analysis. Local food authorities also enforce controls for areas within their jurisdiction.
Cefas manages the microbiological monitoring programme in England and Wales, on behalf of the FSA and according to an agreed protocol. Our scientists make recommendations for classification based on the E. coli data returned under this monitoring programme.
Decisions about the classification of harvesting areas is based on the data on this website.The last five years' worth of E. coli data is viewable in list and graphical form for each representative monitoring point (RMP). Classification zone maps are also available to view or download for each type of shellfish classified. Sampling plans are kept under review, particularly with regard to logistical issues and stock location, and may be amended or refined. Sampling plans are initially determined by the sanitary survey. Current sampling plans for all classified production areas can be found below.