Michelin star chef in scallop scandal

9th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Toni Vicente, a prize-winning Galician chef is accused of selling illegal harvest molluscs in her restaurant and violating healthy laws.

9 September 2008

MADRID -- A prize-winning Galician chef testified before a judge Monday after she was implicated in an illegal scallop trafficking racket in the northwestern region.

Michelin-starred chef Toni Vicente stands accused of selling the illegally harvested molluscs in her restaurant and violating health and safety laws.

She was arrested along with a dozen other people over the weekend by Civil Guard officers following an investigation into the collection of scallops from the Ria de Ferrol sea inlet in the north of the region.

Scallop harvested in the Ria de Ferrol was banned years ago due to the high concentrations of naturally forming domoic acid found in the shellfish. If eaten in sufficient quantities, contaminated shellfish can cause domoic acid poisoning, provoking brain damage, memory loss and even death in humans.

Vicente denies that she knowingly sold the illegally collected molluscs and says her role in the racket was "circumstantial."

Big reputation
"I trust that my reputation rises above this misunderstanding," Vicente told reporters.

Her lawyer Víctor Espinosa said it will be proven in court that Vicente "had nothing to do" with the ring of mollusc collectors and sellers.

Nove, an association representing Galicia's leading chefs, came to Vicente's support, calling her the grand dame of Galician cuisine. "We trust in her professionalism and honesty," the association said.

Most of the other suspects are people accused of collecting the molluscs from the Ria de Ferrol as well as middlemen who sold the contaminated shellfish to restaurants. Police are continuing to investigate after the raids at the weekend and have not ruled out making further arrests.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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