Williamstown oysters cleared after toxic leak

October 2, 2015

Residents of the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown have been on high alert for the past month while they waited for the test results carried out on the area after a toxic leak.

Authorities had previously banned all fishing for oysters after fire-fighting foam which contaminated the area surrounding Williamstown air force base, was thought to have polluted the local water.

However the bans were lifted this week when a state-led panel, set up to investigate the leak, announced that the tests carried out indicated the oysters showed no signs of contamination.

“We considered the dietary exposure assessment by FSANZ, that is the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, on the oysters from Tilligerry Creek,” said Victoria’s Chief Scientist and supervisor of the panel, Mary O’Kane.

“And the advice in to us, and the advice we considered and reaffirmed, is they do not present a food safety risk.”

The dangers of chemical contamination

Like other forms of contamination, such as physical or biological, chemical contamination poses a significant, and often unknown, risk.

The effects of consuming food contaminated with chemicals vary depending on the level of contamination and the type of chemical. While food that has been contaminated with some chemicals will only taint foods and likely change the taste, there are some chemicals that if consumed in food can result in severe lifelong effects, such as cancers, and in some instances even death.

This is why maintaining a high-level of food safety is essential – and if you are in doubt about whether food could be contaminated, throw it out.