The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced last week it had successfully moved away from the unreliable mouse bioassay to more accurate chemical methods in an effort to identify the presence of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and lipophilic toxins in commercially harvested shellfish.
The food safety watchdog and Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science) have spent years developing and refining LC-MS (Liquid Chromatographic Mass Spectrometric) and HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) methods.
“This is a significant milestone in meeting the UK’s commitment to reduce the burden of animal testing and has been achieved after years of FSA-funded research,” said the body's chief scientist Andrew Wadge.
Food safety head at Cefas, David Lees, said the laboratory was one of the world’s first to have implemented non-animal methods for government algal toxin testing programmes.
The FSA said it has informed local authorities of the final phase of changes to its monitoring programme.