FAQs | Forms and Materials | Risk Categories
In March 2015, the Washington State Board of Health adopted a revised Vibrio parahaemolyticus control plan rule (WAC 246-282-006). The control plan went into effect May 1, 2015 and is quite different from the previous plan. Some major changes between the previous plan and the revised plan are highlighted below.
|Component||Previous Plan||Revised Plan|
|Shucked Meats||Label with "for cooking only"||Exempt shucked meats and post-harvest processed oysters|
|Shellfish production data||No requirements||Requirement to report|
|Growing area categories||Geographic area (coastal and inland)||Risk level (historic illness trend)|
|Time of harvest||Temperature control (placing oysters in temperature control)||Cooling (reaching and maintaining 50 degrees F)|
|Time reduction and closure||Sporadic illnesses||Air and harvest (water or tissue) temperature threshold|
|Closure period||Remainder of control plan months||24 hours|
Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a very temperature dependent bacterium. The revised control plan focuses on encouraging best management practices, reducing opportunities for Vibrio parahaemolyticus growth after harvest, and restricting harvest when environmental conditions are ideal for Vibrio parahaemolyticus growth. Many of the changes in the control plan reflect a proactive approach by the Department of Health to reduce the likelihood of illness, while other changes are due to guide revisions from the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP), FDA
Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this control plan apply to?
All harvesters and shellfish dealers harvesting or selling shellstock oysters from May 1 through September 30.
What are the annual harvest plan requirements?
All harvesters and dealers intending to harvest or be an original dealer of shellstock oysters from May through September must have an approved Vp harvest plan. Harvest plans must be submitted to the Department prior to March 1 for initial approval. Provided the plan is approved and no changes are made in subsequent years, then those companies would just need to keep it on file and sign and date the plan to meet the requirements annually.
Remember, you must also submit a copy of your harvest temperature record with the harvest plan. The Department of Health will review and respond with 30 days of receiving harvest plans.
What risk category is my growing area in?
Find your growing area risk category. This list will be updated and posted by February 1 each year.
Based on the risk category, what is the time to cooling (or 50°F) for my growing area?
See the time to cooling and risk categories.
My growing area is a risk category 1, do I have to take the air temperature and the harvest temperature in May?
Yes, regardless of the risk category you are in the control plan months are from May 1 through September 30. The air and harvest temperature data must be taken and recorded for all of the control plan months including May. If you are harvesting from a risk category 1 growing area then you would not need to reduce your time to cooling in May based on the temperatures, but you will still need records of these temperatures.
What are some of the important dates to remember?
February 1: Risk categories announced by the Department of Health.
March 1: Deadline to submit a harvest plan and harvest temperature record to the Department of Health for review and approval.
May 1: Control plan months begin and time to cooling and harvest control requirements begin for risk category 2 and 3.
June 1: Time to cooling and harvest control requirements begin for risk category 1.
September 30: Control plan months end.
December 31: Deadline for shellfish dealers to report oyster production data to the Department of Health.
What can I use to take temperatures?
Air temperatures can be taken at the harvest site with a thermometer or using a weather forecast for the area. If a forecast is being used, the harvest plan must state the source and the station. For example, an Oakland Bay harvester could use the weather.gov Shelton station.
Harvest temperatures must be taken at the harvest site. Harvest temperature may be either internal oyster tissue temperature or water temperature. The harvest plan and harvest temperature record should state if internal tissue temperature or water temperature is being taken. The default is using a thermometer that is verified weekly. The Department of Health may approve less frequent verification if a company plans to use the device's manufacture specifications and they are provided in the harvest plan. If you are interested in recommended devices, speak with other shellfish harvesters or dealers or look at scientific instruments as these will often require less frequent calibration than inexpensive stem-style thermometers.
To help you plan oyster harvests, you can access ambient air and water temperature data at NVS Shellfish Growers temperature maps. This data is a tool to help plan your harvests – it doesn't replace the need to take temperature measurements for each harvest time and location. For more information, see Temperature Sensors for Planning Oyster Harvests.
Forms and Materials
Harvest Plan (Word)
All harvesters and shellfish dealers intending to harvest or sell shellstock oysters from May through September must submit this document to the Department of Health for approval.
Harvest Temperature Record, HA (Word) | Harvest Temperature Record, HA (Excel)
Sample document for harvester licensees to record harvest temperatures. Adapt this form to fit your harvesting operation. For example, if you do not initiate cooling, remove those columns. If you only harvest from one harvest site, include the growing area and risk category in the header so you don't have to enter the growing area name and risk category number with each entry.
Harvest Temperature Receiving Record, SS/SP (Word) | Harvest Temperature Receiving Record, SS/SP (Excel)
Sample document for dealer licensees to record harvesting and receiving temperatures. Adapt this form to fit your harvesting or receiving operation.
Thermometer Verification Log, HA (Word)
Sample document for harvester licensees to record thermometer verification.
Thermometer Verification Log, SS/SP (Word)
Sample document for dealer licensees to record thermometer verification.
Transfer Record Guidance, HA (Word)
Information harvesters must provide the initial dealer when transferring shellstock oysters during the control plan months. This information can appear on the invoice as in the sample document if the invoice travels with the oysters. If the invoice is sent later, than this information should be included in the trip ticket, bill of lading, or other document that accompanies the oysters.
Oyster Production Reporting
Online form for shellfish dealers to collect and report oyster production data. Reports are due annually by December 31.
List of Growing Area Risk Categories
Time to Cooling and Harvest Restrictions
Risk Category 1 Requirements
Time to Cooling
|Except as noted below, the time of harvest to cooling requirement from June 1 through September 30 is:||9 hours|
|When ambient air temperature at harvest is greater than 90 degrees F, the time of harvest to cooling is:||7 hours|
|When harvest temperature is between 68 degrees F and 70 degree F from July 1 through August 31, the time of harvest to cooling requirement is:||5 hours|
|Harvest Control: From July 1 through August 31, harvest is not allowed for 24 hours when harvest temperature is above 70 degrees F.|
Risk Category 2 Requirements
Time to Cooling
|Except as noted below, the time of harvest to cooling requirement from May 1 through September 30 is:||7 hours|
|When ambient air temperature at harvest is greater than 85 degrees F, the time of harvest to cooling is:||5 hours|
|When harvest temperature is between 66 degrees F and 68 degree F from July 1 through August 31, the time of harvest to cooling requirement is:||3 hours|
|Harvest Control: From July 1 through August 31, harvest is not allowed for 24 hours when harvest temperature is above 68 degrees F.|
Risk Category 3 Requirements
Time to Cooling
|Except as noted below, the time of harvest to cooling requirement from May 1 through September 30 is:||5 hours|
|When ambient air temperature at harvest is greater than 80 degrees F, the time of harvest to cooling is:||3 hours|
|When harvest temperature is between 64 degrees F and 66 degrees F from July 1 through August 31, the time of harvest to cooling requirement is:||1 hour|
|Harvest Control: From July 1 through August 31, harvest is not allowed for 24 hours when harvest temperature is above 66 degrees F.|
Presentation: Vibrio Control Plan Requirements (PDF)
Email Updates: Subscribe to Vibrio Information for Shellfish Companies