Bivalve molluscs such as clams, cockles, mussels, oysters, pipi and scallops

​Bivalve molluscs

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Reference MOL 04/2017

All imported food must comply with Australia’s biosecurity import conditions.

Check the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) to determine if the food you intend to import requires an import permit or a treatment or if it must meet any other conditions. All biosecurity requirements must be met before Imported Food Inspection Scheme requirements apply.

Imported Food Inspection Scheme risk food

Bivalve molluscs have been grouped below based on the hazard they present and the test applied.

You must check the information in each group to determine if the hazards and tests apply to your food. Some food may be subject to tests from one or more groups.

It is the broker’s responsibility to describe the bivalve molluscs at the time of lodging the consignment documentation. Importers and brokers should ensure that the goods description or other lodged documentation (for example, manufacturer’s declaration) clearly describes the bivalve molluscs. The clearer the information the easier it will be for the department to assess and exclude tests that may be inappropriate or not required. For example, if the goods are retorted bivalve molluscs, scallops with roe off, raw bivalve molluscs or dried, pickled or fermented bivalve molluscs.

If the goods description or other lodged documentation does not clearly describe the bivalve molluscs then the goods will be analysed for biotoxins (paralytic shellfish poison and domoic acid), Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli. Any delays and inspection and analysis costs can be minimised if the bivalve molluscs are clearly described at the time of lodgement and described on the basis of the risk foods specified below.

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Group 1 – Hazard: Biotoxin

Molluscs which are risk food for group 1

Bivalve molluscs that are raw, cooked or processed, are classified as risk food in group 1.
Bivalve molluscs in group 1 include:

  • clams
  • cockles
  • mussels
  • oysters
  • pipi
  • scallops.

Molluscs which are not risk food for group 1

  • molluscs which are not bivalves; for example, paua, abalone, octopus, squid, sea cucumbers, sea slugs and snails
  • food containing less than 500 g/kg (50%) bivalve molluscs as an ingredient

Molluscs for which paralytic shellfish poison analysis does not apply

  • food described as scallops with roe off – domoic acid analysis continues to apply
  • food described as pearl oysters (of the Pinctada or Pteria genus) where the only part of the product to be consumed is the adductor muscle – domoic acid analysis continues to apply

Hazard testing

Table 1 shows risk food tests applied to bivalve molluscs in group 1.

Table 1 Hazard, test applied and permitted result for bivalve molluscs - group 1
HazardTest appliedPermitted result
BiotoxinsParalytic shellfish poisons (PSP)Maximum level 0.8 mg/kg
Domoic acidMaximum level 20 mg/kg
Label and composition assessment Food Standards Code chapters 1 and 2
Visual assessment Imported Food Control Act 1992 section 3(2)(a)(vii) and 3(2)(b)

Group 2 – Hazard: E. coli

Molluscs which are risk food for group 2

Bivalve molluscs that are raw, cooked or processed, are classified as risk food in group 2.

Bivalve molluscs included in group 2 include:

  • clams
  • cockles
  • mussels
  • oysters
  • pipi.

Molluscs which are not risk food for group 2

  • scallops
  • molluscs that are not bivalve; for example, paua, abalone, octopus, squid, sea cucumbers, sea slugs and snails
  • mixed food containing bivalve molluscs as an ingredient
  • retorted—the final product is in a hermetically sealed (airtight) container and has been heat treated (retorted) within this container so that the final product is shelf stable (not requiring refrigeration).

Hazard testing

Table 2 shows risk food tests applied to bivalve molluscs in group 2.

Table 2 Hazard, test applied and permitted result for bivalve molluscs - group 2
HazardTest appliedPermitted result
Microorganisms E. coli/g
Test n c m M
E. coli / g512.37
n = the minimum number of sample units which must be examined from a lot of food.
c = the maximum allowable number of defective sample units i.e. that have counts between ‘m’ and ‘M’.
m = the acceptable microbiological level in a sample unit.
M = the level which when exceeded (i.e. the level is greater than M) in one or more samples would cause the lot to be rejected
Label and composition assessment Food Standards Code chapters 1 and 2
Visual assessment Imported Food Control Act 1992 section 3(2)(a)(vii) and 3(2)(b)

Group 3 - Hazard: Listeria monocytogenes

Molluscs which are risk food for group 3

Bivalve molluscs that are heat treated and are ready to eat are risk food for group 3.

Heat treated bivalve molluscs include:

  • cooked
  • pasteurised
  • heated
  • smoked.

Bivalve molluscs included in group 3 are:

  • clams
  • cockles
  • mussels
  • oysters
  • pipi
  • scallops.

Molluscs which are not risk food for group 3

  • bivalve molluscs that are not ready to eat, for example, crumbed molluscs that will be deep dried before consumption
  • raw bivalve molluscs (chilled or frozen), for example, raw frozen half shell oysters or mussels
  • dried, pickled or fermented bivalve molluscs, for example, bivalve molluscs that have been heat treated and are shelf stable (not requiring chilled or frozen refrigeration)
  • molluscs that are not bivalves; for example, paua, abalone, octopus, squid, sea cucumbers, sea slugs and snails
  • mixed food containing bivalve molluscs as an ingredient
  • retorted—the final product is in a hermetically sealed (airtight) container and has been heat treated (retorted) within this container so that the final product is shelf stable (not requiring refrigeration).

Hazard testing

Table 3 shows risk food tests applied to bivalve molluscs in group 3.

Table 3 Hazard, test applied and permitted result for bivalve molluscs - group 3
HazardTest appliedPermitted result
Microorganisms Listeria monocytogenesNot detected in any 25 g sample unit
Label and composition assessment Food Standards Code chapters 1 and 2
Visual assessment Imported Food Control Act 1992 section 3(2)(a)(vii) and 3(2)(b)

Risk food sampling for all bivalve molluscs (groups 1-3)

When referred for inspection and testing, an authorised officer:

  • will take samples for each product type
  • will take five sample units per lot for analysis.

For more detail on sampling refer to Imported Food Notice 03-11 Food sampling under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme.

Version history

DateAmendment details
12/04/2017MOL 04/2017Commence analysis of biotoxins in retorted bivalve molluscs and reduce range of foods analysed for paralytic shellfish poisons.
1/5/2014MOL 05/2014Replaces Imported Food Notice 09/12 Tests applied to risk category foods
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