Acces to the Website of the Health's Ministry Back to home page home-page
Bathing water quality
Sanitary control organisation
Advices and recommendations
Water and health

What are the dangers of bathing and related activities?


Table of contents


Shellfish picking

published on 04/16/2008

Reasons for sanitary monitoring

The aim of monitoring is to assess the sanitary quality of the natural shellfish supply used in recreational shellfish picking.
The main agencies involved in monitoring the sanitary quality of shellfish in France are IFREMER (the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea), the DDASS (Departmental Directorates on Health and Social Affairs) offices, and the DDAM (Departmental Directorates on Maritime Affairs) Offices. The microbiological, phytoplankton and chemical quality of shellfish is assessed through a variety of monitoring networks in the areas where recreational and/or professional shellfish picking occurs, as well as on shellfish production sites.

The overall quality of shellfish picking areas is assessed each year, based on all of the results found. The sites are classified according to their salubriousness (A, B, C and D).
Certain areas show consistently good quality, while others are consistently mediocre; still others vary in quality due to the pluviometry or occasional contamination.
  • Class A sites are of good quality,
  • Class B sites are of mediocre quality, with shellfish that may be contaminated during part of the year,
  • Class C sites are of mediocre quality, with shellfish that may be contaminated during part of the year,
  • Class D sites are of poor quality, with shellfish significantly and continuously contaminated.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Rural Code, recreational shellfish picking is allowed in Class A zones, tolerated in Class B zones provided that consumers are appropriately informed (the DDASS recommends that the shellfish be cooked, in this event) and prohibited in Class C and D zones.
Shellfish picking areas can be subject to sanitary monitoring all year long to detect possible contamination. Should the approved regulatory thresholds be exceeded, shellfish picking may be prohibited by a municipal or prefectoral order in the relevant areas, until the situation returns to regulatory compliance.
Classification and sanitary monitoring results can be posted at the entrance to the shellfish bed area and at the Town Hall.