Cornwall’s Port Health team oversees successful Falmouth Oyster Festival

With the Falmouth Oyster Festival running for its 23rd year this weekend, Cornwall Council’s Port Health team has been working to ensure that residents, visitors and businesses enjoy a successful event.

The annual festivities held in Events Square in Falmouth mark the start of the oyster dredging season which runs from October to March each year.

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It celebrates the native Fal Oyster and diversity of Cornish seafood, with four days of feasting, cooking demos, live music, food and craft stalls from now until Sunday, October 13.

Daily cookery demonstrations are held by top chefs and food experts from Cornwall’s hotels and restaurants, inspiring visitors to try their hand at unusual and exciting seafood combinations and indulge in the tastes of native oysters, wines, ales and local produce.

This burgeoning industry is overseen by the Cornwall Council’s Port Health Team, a small group of officers who work with organisers to sample the raw shellfish products, oversee the regulation of depuration plants and industry testing of the final product.

Like all shellfish oysters require proper preparation to ensure that they are safe to eat. Most shellfish from Cornish waters will undergo a form of processing called depuration. This is where the shellfish sit in a tank of clean water for 48-72 hours to filter clean water, so that they are presented to consumers in the safest possible condition.

The team look for cleanliness of the stalls but also at risk of cross contamination, temperature control, hand washing, access to water and personal hygiene of staff.The Falmouth-based Port Health team also carry out food hygiene inspections of some of the food business operators attending the festival.

For over a century there has been oyster dredging in the Carrick Roads and surrounding rivers. Many of the oyster boats, known as Falmouth Working Boats were built at boatyards around the Fal.

Governed by ancient laws that were put in place to protect the natural ecology of the riverbeds and oyster stocks, oystermen fishing in the Port of Truro Oyster Fishery are prohibited from using engines. Instead, sail power and hand-pulled dredges must be used.

Councillor Rob Nolan, Cornwall’s Cabinet Member for environment and public protection, said: “A great deal of work goes on behind the scenes to get the Falmouth Oyster Festival up and running each year so that thousands of locals and visitors can enjoy these Cornish delights.

“I want to pay tribute to our Port Health team for ensuring everyone enjoys this top class, Cornish event celebrating our proud and growing shellfish industry.”

Businesses can find more information on food markets and festivals to ensure they are fully compliant with rules surrounding the service of food outside of permanent structures.

Safer Food Better Business packs can be purchased from Cornwall Council.

Posted 11 October, 2019