Belgian mussels withdrawn from market
A Belgian mussel farmer says he feels betrayed by the temporary ban imposed on the mussels that contain toxin.4 August 2008
BELGIUM - On Friday, the country’s first and only mussel farmer, Willy Versluys, was told to withdraw its first harvest of the year from the market.
Samples had shown that the mussels contained the toxin DSP which may cause stomach and intestinal problems.
The Federal Food Agency (FAVV) says this is just a routine measure, but the mussel farmer feels betrayed.
According to Versluys, the sample in question was sent to the lab on 22 July. However, news that the mussels contained DSP and should immediately be taken from the shelves only reached him on 1 August.
On top of that, the Food Agency put out a temporary ban on mussel harvests off the Belgian coast.
The mussel farmer now says there is something fishy about the whole case.
“Why did it take the lab 9 days to examine the mussel sample,” he says. He is also angry at not being told about the exact concentration of the toxin in the sample.
“Taken in high numbers, DSP may cause stomach and intestine problems yet we’ve sold all our mussels and none of our customers has come been reported ill," Versluys adds.
The Federal Food Agency has announced it will further investigate the matter. A spokeswoman suggested the delay in lab results could be that the famer had sent the samples to the lab himself.
“As Versluys sent the samples off to the lab himself, which then had to contact the Food Agency, some extra time may have passed,” a spokeswoman suggested.
The matter has also come to the attention of consumer organisation Test Aankoop. Spokesman Ivo Mechels says it is questionable that the laboratory took so long to come to a result is questionable to say the least.
“Under the given circumstances, the Belgica mussels shouldn’t have been introduced on the market in the first place,” Mechels points out.
The consumer organisation also expressed its surprise that the initiative to test samples was left to the mussel farmer himself.
[flandersnews.be / Expatica]