14 FEBRUARY 2017 NEIGHBOURS FOOD TESTING Cawthron delivers industry leading analytical testing, reliable results and market changing insight. • Method development & validation team • IANZ (ISO) accreditation • GMP certified for Nutraceuticals • Label claims • Food safety • Export certification Ph: +64 3 548 2839 www.cawthron.org.nz FT239 FT234 The scientists have recently completed a research project on these toxins, partly funded by the Australian Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and part of the research looked at the toxicity of a major paralytic shellfish toxin often found in Tasmanian shellfish. “Over the past two decades, our research team has built extensive knowledge and expertise around the analysis of a whole range of marine toxins,” Cawthron marine toxin chemist Dr Tim Harwood says. “We’ve applied that capability to helping New Zealand’s seafood industry and it’s great now to be lending a hand to our Trans-Tasman neighbours.”Algal blooms have been a problem for Tasmania’s shellfish aquaculture industry for more than 20 years, and toxins produced by the algae can naturally accumulate in filter-feeding shellfish such as mussels and oysters. Harmful algal bloom research is a top priority for the Tasmanian wild capture and marine farming sectors, and Cawthron’s research is aimed at reducing the impact of paralytic shellfish toxins on Australian shellfish industries. Cawthron’s extensive research and experience in marine biotoxin chemistry, which is supported by New Zealand’s drive to establish a safe seafood industry through the government-funded Safe New Zealand Seafood programme, means it analyses various New Zealand shellfish and seawater samples every week to find out whether they contain toxins or toxin-producing microalgae. “The analysis of paralytic shellfish toxins is something you really want to get right,” Harwood says. “They have the potential to make you really sick, or potentially kill you, so testing and regulation needs to be very robust.” Harwood says while algal blooms cannot be eradicated, harvesting management and assessment of shellfish toxicity and how the toxins will affect consumers can be improved. “We can measure how much toxin is in the shellfish; that’s relatively simple,” he says. “What isn’t clear is the toxicity, or how that toxin affects people. This project will result in a better assessment of shellfish toxicity, and there will be more confidence about saying whether shellfish contaminated with toxin actually poses a human health problem or not.” The next step is to publish the findings. HELPING OUR AUSSIE Cawthron scientists have been helping the Tasmanian seafood industry improve testing for paralytic shellfish toxins – a recurring problem for their shellfish aquaculture sector.
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