Rapid, Quantitative Field Test for Shellfish Toxins (RD189)


This project will develop lateral flow devices capable of detecting shellfish toxins caused by harmful algal blooms, thus reducing the risk to consumers of shellfish contamination and increasing confidence in shellfish products.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

18 months

Project Summary:

Aquaculture in the UK is essential for food security, and production is expected to double in the next two decades. The shellfish industry employs >3,000 people with a revenue in excess of £40 million per annum. One of the challenges to this industry is the impact of toxic blooms of algae, commonly known as harmful algal blooms (HABs), which contaminate the shellfish, posing a risk to human health and an economic challenge to the shellfish producers. Currently, protection of public health relies on an official monitoring programme administered by the Food Standards Agency which consists of regular testing of shellfish for specific toxins; those responsible for amnesic, paralytic and diarrhoetic shellfish poisoning. There is no commercial field test for quantitative analysis of these toxins.

The project consortium consists of Robert Gordon University, The Scottish Biologics Facility, University of Aberdeen, Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lateral Dx Ltd, West Country Mussels, Cromarty Mussels, Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, and the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers and the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group.

The project will use designer antibodies incorporated into lateral flow devices for the detection of amnesic and diarrhoetic shellfish toxins in the field. The lateral flow tests will be read by a calibrated reader to provide the actual concentration of toxin in the shellfish meat, empowering the producer and processors to make informed critical decisions on harvesting/mitigation strategies. This capability will transform commercial viability, reduce risk, and increase confidence in shellfish products.

STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

Robert Gordon University