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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 09:56 GMT
Food inspectors targeting oysters
Colchester oysters
East coast oyster farming is under scrutiny by food inspectors
Oyster production on the east coast is under scrutiny after complaints that people have contracted a mystery virus.

The Food Standards Agency is carrying out random tests on oyster farms in Essex and samples have been taken from two suppliers on Mersea Island.

The authorities are also carrying out spot tests on stocks from the River Roach in Essex and on the continent.

Colin Daines, environmental protection manager at Colchester, said it was unusual to get illnesses from the food.

Random samples

Colchester Borough Council's environment protection team is carrying out the tests on the oyster samples for the Food Standards Agency but they are also looking at other possible causes for the outbreak of the virus.

Mr Daines said: "Winter sickness virus is the most common cause of infectious intestinal diseases in England at this time of the year.

"It has resulted in the closure of many schools, not only in Essex but across the country.

"The cases rarely originate from any kind of food as it is mostly a person to person infection and this accounts for 86% of cases."

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