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Vibrio Control Plan

What is Vibrio parahaemolyticus?

Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is one of the many varieties of naturally occurring bacteria found in New York's marine waters. It is usually found in coastal waters, including areas where oysters, hard clams, and other shellfish can be found. Vp thrives under warm water conditions. In the summer months, Vp concentrations can skyrocket

How does it affect humans?

Clams, oysters and other bivalve shellfish are filter feeders; they strain plankton and other marine organisms from the waters. During the summer months, when conditions are most favorable to Vp growth, shellfish are more likely to filter and ingest significant amounts of Vp. If shellfish are not kept cool after they are harvested, the Vp concentration may continue to rise to levels harmful to humans. Eating raw or undercooked clams and oysters that contain an elevated concentrations of Vp may induce gastrointestinal illness in humans. The symptoms of a typical, food borne, Vp infection include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and diarrhea. Typically, the illness lasts about three days and requires no treatment beyond replacing lost fluids. Occasionally, the infection can be more severe in people with compromised immune systems, such as children and the elderly. While the most common type of Vp infection is caused by ingestion, it is also possible to get a Vp skin infection if an open wound is exposed to warm sea water with significant levels of Vp.

How can you avoid a food borne Vp infection?

You can avoid contracting a Vp infection by not eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

How can recreational diggers reduce their risk for Vp infection?

Using common sense when handling clams and oysters, recreational diggers can reduce their risk. While you are harvesting, keep your shellfish in the shade and avoid keeping any shellfish in direct sunlight. Once you have finished digging, place the harvest in a cooler, or on ice, or in some type of refrigeration as quickly as possible. Be careful not to leave the shellfish in standing water. Storing shellfish inside a hot vehicle, with no means of cooling, can cause Vp levels in the shellfish to double in less than 15 minutes.

In response to several illnesses reported in 2013 and 2014, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Marine Resources (NYSDEC) has developed a Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) control plan. This plan is designed to promote proper handling of shellfish, especially during the warm weather months, and to provide guidance to work towards maintaining shellfish as a safe and wholesome food for consumers.

Summary of the Vp Control Plan

Areas Subject to the Plan in 2017: Harvest zones NS1, NS2, NS3 and LS1 west of Eatons Neck Point (LS1 West) are subject to the Vp Control Plan (areas of Oyster Bay Harbor, Cold Spring Harbor, Northport, Huntington Bay and their tributaries; and adjacent areas of Long Island Sound).

The Vp Control Plan adds conditions to the permits of all shellfish diggers and shellfish dealers detailing how shellfish must be handled after harvesting. There are additional conditions for diggers and dealers handling shellfish from areas subject to the Vp Control Plan (NS1, NS2, NS3 and LS1 West). These conditions are designed to prevent an increase in the levels of Vp during the period between harvest and the sale to the consumer.

Summary of Requirements for Shellfish Harvesters (Diggers)

All diggers in all areas:
Requirement Description
Shading of Shellfish All shellfish must be shaded during the period May 1 - October 31; this applies to shellfish onboard the harvest vessel and during transport in any boat, vehicle or other means of conveyance, from the harvest area to the original dealer.
Tagging of Shellfish and Time of Harvest
  • Shellfish Harvester tags must include the time of harvest for all shellfish taken (time of harvest begins when the first shellstock are taken from the water); Time of harvest must be written in indelible ink on each tag and the tag must be affixed to the container prior to the placement of any shellfish into the container.
  • Once a container has been completely filled as intended, a new time of harvest begins when the next lot of shellfish is removed from the water. All shellfish tags must be fully completed prior to leaving the area of harvest. All shellfish harvested from LS1 east of Eatons Neck Point must be tagged or labeled LS1 East.
Self-Draining Containers and Ice Slurry Shellfish may not be placed or held in containers that aren't self-draining; they cannot sit in standing or stagnant water; except for placement in an ice slurry for rapid cooling when the temperature of ice slurry is less than or equal to 45ºF (7.2ºC). Water used for the ice slurry must come from the certified area where shellfish were taken. Any ice used must be drinking water quality or from an approved source.
Log Books Shellfish harvesters must maintain a daily harvest log which includes: common name of shellfish harvested, quantities (net weights, numerical counts or standard measures) of shellfish harvested, the harvest date, an identification of the areas from which shellfish were harvested, time of harvest, and the names and permit numbers of all purchasers of shellfish (identify disposition of shellfish sold). The log must be completed prior to landing on a daily basis and made available to the Department or an environmental officer upon request.
Oyster Harvesting
  • All oysters harvested from any certified shellfish lands for food consumption between the dates of May 1 through September 30, both dates inclusive, must be immediately culled and placed under temperature control through icing, mechanical refrigeration maintained at 33ºF (0.6ºC) to 45ºF (7.2ºC) or other cooling method approved by the Department upon commencement of time of harvest.
  • Time of harvest begins when each lot of oysters is taken from the water and no longer submerged. Time of harvest must be written in indelible ink on each tag and the tag must be affixed to the container prior to the placement of any oysters into the container.
  • All oysters shall be immediately culled and maintained under temperature control (cooling) throughout the harvest day once the time of harvest (start of harvest) begins. Once a container has been completely filled as intended, a new time of harvest begins when the next lot of shellfish is removed from the water.
Diggers working in NS1, NS2, NS3 and LS1 West during the period May 1 - September 30:
Requirement Description
Time of Harvest, Tagging and Time-Temperature Controls (Cooling)
  • Hard clams and oysters harvested for food consumption must be immediately culled and placed under temperature control (icing, mechanical refrigeration maintained at 33ºF (0.6ºC) to 45ºF (7.2ºC) or other cooling method approved by the Department) upon commencement of time of harvest.
  • Time of harvest begins when hard clams or oysters are taken from the water and no longer submerged. Time of harvest must be written in indelible ink on each tag and the tag must be affixed to the container prior to the placement of any hard clams and/or oysters into the container.
  • All oysters and/or hard clams must be immediately culled and maintained under temperature control (cooling) throughout the harvest day once the time of harvest (start of harvest) begins. Once a container has been completely filled as intended, a new time of harvest begins when the next lot of shellfish is removed from the water.
Tagging for LS1 (East and West) Shellfish harvested in that portion of LS1, west of Eatons Neck Point must be designated as LS1 west and those shellfish taken from that portion of LS1, east of Eatons Neck Point must be labeled LS1 east; no commingling of LS1 east and LS1 west product is allowed.
Internal Temperature at Sale to Original Dealer Oysters and hard clams must be cooled to an internal temperature of 60ºF or less prior to sale to the original dealer.

Summary of Requirements for Shellfish Shippers

These requirements apply to all dealers:

All shellstock must be cooled to an internal temperature of 50°F (10°C) prior to distribution and must be accompanied by a shipping document indicating one of the following:

  • Shipped adequately iced, the date and time shipped and the initials of the shipper (shipping time must not exceed four hours for this option).
  • Shipped in a conveyance pre-chilled and maintained at or below 45°F (7.2°C), the date and time shipped and the initials of the shipper.
  • For shellstock picked up by the receiver at the dealer's facility: shipped adequately iced or the temperature of the storage area from where the shellfish were removed, the date and time removed and the initials of the shipper.

All shellstock received must be received with a document from the shipper indicating one of the following:

  • Shipped adequately iced and the time shipped.
  • Shipped in a conveyance pre-chilled and maintained at or below 45°F (7.2°C) and the time shipped.
  • For shellstock received from a shellfish dealer located outside of New York prior to being cooled to an internal temperature of 50°F (10°C) - A time/temperature recording device shall accompany the shellstock indicating continuous cooling; the document must indicate that the product was shipped prior to achieving an internal temperature of 50°F (10°C) and indicate the presence of a time/temperature recording device.

Shellfish received without a proper shipping document must be rejected.

Shellfish receiving records (a HACCP record) must include date, time and shellstock temperature (center of a lot/container of the shellstock) when received.

These requirements apply to all dealers who receive shellstock from diggers:

All shellfish received from harvesters must include the time of harvest on harvester tags and must be kept as part of your shellfish receiving records.

  • All oysters received from harvesters between the dates of May 1 through September 30, both dates inclusive, must be cooled immediately following harvest. A record of the internal temperature (center of a lot/container of the oysters) at time of receipt and time received is also required.
  • From May 1 through October 31, both dates inclusive, shellfish received from harvesters that are transported to the original dealer by the harvester must be received shaded at the time of delivery. The temperature within the conveyance used to transport the shellfish must not be higher than the ambient air temperature during transportation time.

Shellstock shall not be shipped or shrink wrapped prior to it reaching the temperature of 50°F (10°C) or below.

These requirements apply to all dealers who receive shellstock from diggers under a Vp Control Plan only:

These requirements shall apply from May 1 through September 30, both dates inclusive. Areas currently under Vp Control Plan include NS1, NS2, NS3 or that portion of LS1 west of Eatons Neck Point.

  • All hard clams and oysters received from harvesters from in the affected areas will be rejected if the shellstock temperature at receiving is greater than 60°F (15.6°C) or if the shellfish harvester tag does not include the time of harvest. A record of the internal temperature (center of a lot/container of the shellstock) at time of receipt and time received is also required; and
  • must be cooled to a temperature of 50°F (10°C) or less within 10 hours of time of receipt and prior to being shipped; and
  • shall not be comingled with hard clams oysters harvested from LS1 East.

Other harvest areas may be added during 2017 if it is determined that the source of shellfish has been linked to Vp illnesses.

Please call the Shellfish Inspection office at 631-444-0494 or email FW.Marine@dec.ny.gov for information on the shellfish shipper requirements.


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