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FDA Approves New Shellfish Testing at Lab in East Boothbay
04/04/2014   Reported By: Tom Porter

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Maine's Bigelow Laboratory to use a new method of testing shellfish toxicity that lab officials say is the first of its kind in the nation. The East Boothbay lab tests shellfish samples provided by the Maine Department of Marine Resources for toxins such as the one that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, also known as Red Tide, a prominent threat to shellfish for the past 40 years.

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DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols said the new method will be more quicker and efficient as well as a big benefit to the industry.

"It's going to allow the DMR to conduct testing more frequently, done using mice," Nichols said. "And what the means for the shellfish industry that relies on this is that we can be more targeted in the areas that are closed due to toxins. Meaning we can close closer areas so more areas remain open to shellfish harvesting."

"I think it's exciting on a number of levels," said Kohl Kanwit, director of the DMR Bureau of Public Health. "It means were' moving away from animal testing to be more responsive and cost effective."

Kanwit said said Maine's rollout of the program will be a model for the rest of the United States. European countries, Australia, and New Zealand already use similar methods.

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