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Vibrio Control Plan

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.

Vibro Impacts on Shellfish and Humans

Clams, oysters and other bivalve shellfish are filter feeders, they strain plankton and other marine organisms from the waters. During the warm 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. You can avoid contracting a Vp infection by not eating raw or undercooked shellfish. 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, but the infection can be more severe in people with compromised immune systems.

Additionally, Vibrio infections may also occur in persons with an open wound or cut when exposed to warm brackish or saltwater.

Reduce The Risk of Vp Exposure and Infection

When harvesting and handling clams and oysters during the summer, recreational and commercial diggers must keep shellfish in the shade and avoid any direct sunlight to the shellstock. Once you have finished digging, place the harvest in a cooler, on ice, or in some type of refrigeration as quickly as possible. Do not leave 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.

Vibrio Control Plan

In response to several illnesses reported in 2013-2014, DEC 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.

Review the current New York State Vibrio Control Plan (PDF) in effect and the Reference Guide for Shellfish Harvesters and Dealers (PDF).

Summary of the Vp Control Plan

Areas Subject to the Plan: 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)

These Requirements Apply to All Diggers
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.
LS1 East Tagging 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.

These Requirements Apply to Shellfish Harvested 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 the following:

  • Date and time of shipment; and temperature of the shellstock including initials.
  • For shellstock picked up by the receiver at the dealer's facility: The temperature of the shellfish, the date and time received and the initials of the shipper.

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

  • Date and time of shipment; and temperature of the shellstock, including initials.
  • 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 if it is determined that the source of shellfish has been linked to Vp illnesses.

Contact DEC's Shellfish Inspection office at 631-444-0494 or FW.Marine@dec.ny.gov for more information on the shellfish shipper requirements.


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