The River Exe is a deep, fast flowing river that has an all year round “B” Grade Classification, meaning that it is safe to eat the shellfish grown in its waters provided it has been depurated (or purified) first. The classification is maintained by independent testing carried out on regularly by East Devon District Council. They take samples of mussels and cockles as well as a sample of the water and send them to laboratory for testing. These shellfish tests are taken monthly while the seawater test is taken monthly from October to March and fortnightly between April and September. The test results are available to view on the Food Standards Agency website.
Not all rivers in the Southwest are able to maintain the B Grade Classification all year round. Areas of the Dart, the Fal and Truro Rivers are all downgraded to a “C” Grade for between 5 and 7 months of the year due to high level contamination. A Grade “C” means that it is unlawful to harvest shellfish for depuration as there may be a risk to human health, even after the cleaning process.
The waters in the River Exe are so clean that some areas of it have been classified at times as “A” Grade, meaning that the shellfish could be eaten without depuration. We always adopt a “belt and braces” approach, however, and all of our products are depurated before being sold.