Ribble Estuary cockles 'dangerous to eat' warning

Cockles from a Lancashire estuary have been found to contain dangerous levels of E.Coli and environmental officials have warned they should not be eaten.

Trade in Ribble cockles has been banned until further notice by West Lancashire Environmental Health Department.

Foulnaze Bank fishery, which was closed due to large numbers of unlicensed cocklers, had been due to reopen on 25 July.

It will now remain closed until contamination levels decrease.

Coastguard rescues

A £500 permit has been proposed there following a cockle "gold rush", which saw over 200 tonnes of cockles being fished by up to 300 people in a day.

Coastguards were called out 26 times to rescue ill-equipped boats in the two months to November 2011 - when the fishery was closed.

Samples taken by environmental health officials on Monday were found to have such high levels of E.Coli and faecal coliforms that they would be dangerous to eat, even when cooked.

The re-opening of the fishery depends on those levels reducing by about a half, which could take a significant amount of time, officials said.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites