The Food and Drug Administration has released an article that looks at their efforts to ensure the safety of clams that had to be taken off the market more than 20 years ago. This year, though, the specific clam bed that had to be off limits for so long has finally come back online, and the FDA explains why that’s possible.
The clams in question hail from Georges Bank along the New England coast. These clams were shown to contain toxins that could be dangerous when consumed by a human, and once they were discovered in the late 1980s, the bed was closed, then reopened for a short period, then closed again. The toxin in question, a form of red tide, can lead to an unpleasant-sounding condition known as paralytic shellfish poisoning.
After years of working to find a solution that would aid the clam industry while protecting consumers from harm, inroads were made in 2009 when a test kit from Abraxis was approved by a variety of organizations. What made this test kit so important was that it could be used by any trained individual, not just scientists, hoping to determine if the clams in question suffer from a toxin contamination.
That was always the problem with reopening Georges Bank; the FDA couldn’t have a scientist on every clamming vessel to test the products. This test allows fishers who receive training to carry out the tests themselves, assuring that the products will be safe once they finally head to the dinner table of the American consumer.