Should you collect shellfish between September and April?

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Offline GlentoranMark

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Mark asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris and team, love the show.

Anyway, I love collecting shellfish, cockles, mussels etc. but there is an old wives tale that says you shouldn't collect any shellfish with an "R" in the month (September to April.)

Is there any truth in the wives tale? Do shellfish have a breeding season? And how do farmed shellfish manufacturers get round the problem if there is one?

Many thanks,


What do you think?
« Last Edit: 13/06/2011 11:27:22 by GlentoranMark »


Offline zx16

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Re: Should you collect shellfish between September and April?
« Reply #1 on: 17/01/2017 18:56:52 »
Isn't the advice about shellfish now out-dated? Surely the invention of the domestic refrigerator has changed things.  Can't shellfish such as cockles and mussels be kept deep-frozen for months at home, before consumption?

I have never personally eaten cockles or mussels, as I don't fancy them. But if anyone wants to eat them, why don't they do it fearlessly, by taking the frozen molluscular corpses out of a refrigerator. Even in July?


Offline Colin2B

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Re: Should you collect shellfish between September and April?
« Reply #2 on: 17/01/2017 23:39:12 »
Actually the advice is only to eat shellfish when there is an R in the month, and it can be traced back to the 1500s when it referred to oysters.
Although there is more risk of toxic algae and spoilage in summer months (remember many shellfish are exposed for part of the day) the summer is also spawning time and this affects the taste - oyster meat for example becomes thin and milky. Some countries have regulations limiting taking of shellfish in the spawning seasons.
Regulation in the U.K for shellfish require that they are purified in tanks of circulating salt water with UV treatment if there is any risk of contamination.
Perhaps you could do your collecting in the cooler seasons and eat farmed/frozen the rest of the time.
and the misguided shall lead the gullible,
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