Last updated: 14.04.11

Food hygiene risk of oysters 'impacts on trade'

The discovery of a new parasite could have food hygiene professionals targeting oysters over the coming months to ensure all produce is free from harm.

Martin Laity of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain told listeners of the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today podcast that it is a European problem that first emerged in Spain and has since spread through France.

While there have been no associated mortalities in the oyster population, but it has resulted in some strange ones. The parasite in question is the Bonamia exitiosa and it has now been found in the River Fal in Cornwall.

He commented: "I sent samples to a laboratory and they came back and said: 'We have found this new parasite and you are the first site in the UK to have it'."

Oysters have been a part of the UK diet for more than 6,000 years, with archaeological sites across the country littered with the shells of these culinary delights.