Queen's scientists make shellfish safer to eat

Shellfish graphic The test will be able to detect dangerous shellfish toxins within half an hour

Scientists at Queen's University have developed a new technology that will make shellfish safer to eat.

The breakthough by the Institute for Agri-Food and Land Use ensures shellfish, like cockles and oysters, are free of toxins before they reach the public.

The current process for monitoring potentially dangerous toxins can take up to two days.

But the new test slashes that time to just 30 minutes.

It detects paralytic shellfish poisons by using a biosensor technology. The toxins paralyse anyone who consumes them and kill around 25% people who are poisoned.

Professor Chris Elliott, who led the project, said: "While the existence of these toxins has been known for some time, there have been major concerns about the effectiveness of tests used to detect them.

"There is also growing evidence that climate change is causing many more toxic episodes across the world, resulting in the closure of affected shellfish beds.

"The new test, developed at Queen's, is much quicker and more reliable than existing methods.

"It works by using unique 'detector proteins' to seek out minute amounts of toxins present in mussels, oysters, cockles and scallops."

The test was developed as part of a 10m euros BioCop research project led by Queen's and involving 32 international research partners and the European Commission.

The researchers at Queen's have signed a contratc with UK-based company Neogen Europe to commericalise the idea.

More Northern Ireland stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Martin Gardner as a young manThink hard

    Was this man the world's greatest puzzle master?


  • Carved pumpkinTrick or treat

    What did a riot at a pumpkin festival show about race in US?


  • A woman puts on a surgical mask during hospital Ebola training in Alabama.'Dark continent'

    Is prejudice fuelling Ebola outbreak hysteria in the US?


  • Oscar de la Renta and Oprah WinfreyIn pictures

    The life and work of Oscar de la Renta


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.