Biotoxins in Shellfish and Seafoods

A facilities upgrade here at Analytical Services Tasmania (AST) in late 2017 has enabled us to provide a local, rapid testing service for the shellfish industry in Tasmania. 

The upgrade was undertaken with consultation from both the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council (TSIC) and Oysters Tasmania to industry specifications. 

The new service provides fast and flexible testing operations 52 weeks of the year, including the busy Christmas and Easter holiday periods, with testing days occurring on Mondays and Wednesdays (submissions need to be received prior to 10am on the testing day).

Shellfish Biotoxin analysis includes 28 separate analytes covering:

  • Lipophilic toxins (including AST and DST)
  • Neurotoxic Shellfish toxins
  • Paralytic Shellfish toxins (PST) screen
  • PST confirmation

The AST Biotoxin unit gained NATA testing accreditation for oysters, mussels, pipis and scallops in 2017, with the addition of  rock lobster, abalone and sea urchin roe in 2020. 

As part of this work, AST participated in an international inter-laboratory trial for a new streamlined PST analysis test, the "Boundy Method",  organised by two of the world leading laboratories in PST analysis, Cawthron (New Zealand) and Cefas (United Kingdom).

The Boundy method offers a number of improvements over the current "Lawrence" method.  Primarily, the method produces “final" results from a single test, eliminating the need to do a follow-up “confirmation" test of potentially high results. Increased throughput in the laboratory is also achievable due to the decreased sample preparation requirements.

The method recently underwent an international inter-laboratory trial, published in the Journal of AOAC (freely available here). The AST Biotoxin unit is very proud of the fact that we were the only Australian participant in the trial and that we provided a major improvement that increases instrumental robustness that is now acknowledged as part of the official method.

Growers will be notified when we change to the new "boundy" method. Very little will change for growers and samplers, but there will be a slight change to the PDF reports as the PST testing will no longer be separated into “screen" and “confirmation" components. All other sample requirements will remain the same (250mL polycarbonate container with yellow label) and reports and SMSs will continue to be sent. Please contact us if you would like more information about the Boundy method, or if you have any questions or concerns about the testing changes taking place.

For enquiries regarding zone or area closures, the ShellMAP Biotoxin Management Plan or interpreting Biotoxin results, please contact ShellMAP on 6165 3771 or email shellmap@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

The biotoxin facility is co-located with the algae testing facility at AST at 18 St Johns Avenue in New Town, Hobart. 

Growers can contact the laboratory directly for algal (water) and meat sample jars, sample drop-off/postage/courier arrangements, and results. An explanation of some of the technical detail provided on the reports is provided on our client info sheet How To Read a Biotoxin Report.

To see the laboratory in operation, please contact us to organise a tour.

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