Low levels of norovirus may be present in most British-grown oysters, the food watchdog has warned.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that 76% of UK oysters had traces of the virus, with low levels of the bug present in more than half of the positive samples.
Researchers could not distinguish between infectious and non-infectious norovirus material contained in the shellfish, which were tested from oyster growing beds in the UK.
However, the results of the FSA’s study will be used by the European Food Safety Authority when it advises EU officials on setting a legal safe limit for norovirus in oysters.
The FSA’s chief scientist Andrew Wadge commented: “This research is the first of its kind in the UK. It will be important to help improve the knowledge of the levels of norovirus found in shellfish at production sites.”