FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

I am concerned about high blood cholesterol can I still eat shellfish?

Certain shellfish are high in (tissue) cholesterol. However the cause of high human blood cholesterol is not the cholesterol in the diet but is from a diet high in saturated fats which the body itself then turns into cholesterol in the blood.


Is it safe to collect shellfish from the seashore for personal consumption?

No it is not safe to collect shellfish especially bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams, razor etc) from the seashore to take home and eat. The bivalves bought in the shops have come from areas that are under strict control by the Food Standards Agency. This ensures that no toxic algal blooms have taken place and that, depending on area, the bivalves are depurated prior to sale. Depuration enables the shellfish purge to themselves in a highly controlled environment.


I have read that the UK waters are not all safe for bathing does that mean that I should stop eating seafood in those areas?

Shellfish are under strict government safety control, which means that all the shellfish offered to the consumer from reputable outlets should be safe to eat .


I want to support British produce. Where does the Shellfish in the UK come from?

Most of the bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams, razor-shells etc) which can be bought on the UK market are fished or produced in the UK. Most of the crustacean species such as crabs lobsters, nephrops and crawfish are fished or produced in the UK. The only exception are the cold water prawns which are imported from mainly Iceland, Greenland, Norway and Canada and the tropical prawns mainly imported from Thailand, China, India and Equador. The UK exports most of its shellfish to France and Spain.


I am concerned about conservation. Am I by buying shellfish aiding in the decline of stocks?

Shellfish resources are considered to be optimally exploited, possibly over-fished in some areas. They are under threat of further fishing exploitation in the near future. A combination of strict technical controls has been established to conserve stocks. The proposed establishment of a shellfish licence will maintain exploitation at current levels.


Can I eat oysters, mussels and scallops in the summer months?

It is possible to eat all shellfish including mussels, scallops and oysters in the summer month. The only exception is the native oyster, which is not in season but farmed pacific oysters are available all year around.


Can I drink spirits with oysters?

It is recommended to drink either beer, wine or soft-drinks with oysters since strong spirits does not aid in the digestion of oysters. Stout and champagne are traditional drinks to accompany oysters.


Can I contact the Shellfish Association of Great Britain regarding technical and general enquiries?

All members can contact the Shellfish Association of Great Britain to get technical or general advice.