The Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section's Inspection Program is responsible for the permitting and inspection of shellfish and crustacean processors statewide. The program typically permits between 180-200 interstate and intrastate shellfish processors annually and inspects processors on at least a quarterly basis. There are about 20 certified crustacean processors in North Carolina.

Learn more in the sections below.

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Shellfish are defined as bivalve molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels, arcs, etc.). North Carolina requires anyone who purchases shellfish from a harvester, shucks shellfish for packaging and sale, or repacks or re-labels shellfish to obtain a permit from the Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section's Inspection Program. A permit may be required to purchase shellfish in the original containers/bags and sell the product to other consumers or dealers in another state.

Shellfish processors are certified as either shucker/packers, repackers, shellstock shippers or re-shippers. All raw or frozen shellfish products offered for sale must be properly tagged or labeled by a certified dealer. North Carolina certifies both intrastate and interstate dealers. Intrastate dealers may only sell tagged product within North Carolina. Interstate dealers may sell anywhere in the country and are listed on the U.S. FDA Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List, which is published online monthly.

Crustacea are defined as crabs, shrimp, lobster and crayfish although almost all of the permitted facilities in North Carolina are for blue crab processing. North Carolina requires plants that cook, pick, pack, thermally process or repack cooked crustacea to obtain a permit from the Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality’s Inspection Program. All shellfish and crustacea processors must comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point guidelines. 

N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission rules governing storage, handling and sale of raw molluscan shellfish and cooked crustacea apply to all product found in North Carolina. As a result, shellfish inspectors work with the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Food Protection Division as well as county environmental health departments to assist with retail and restaurant issues regarding shellfish and cooked crustacea products. Inspectors also provide training when requested to county environmental health inspectors and Serve Safe classes for food service industry personnel. The Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Inspection Program also works in cooperation with N.C. Sea Grant and the N.C. Environmental Health State of Practice Committee to provide a Seafood Safety Workshop, held annually in Pine Knoll Shores .

Shellfish Harvest / Receiving Record

SSOP Checklist-Temperature Chart for Shellstock Shippers

Contact the Shellfish Sanitation section at 252-515-5656 to receive more info about the necessary forms.

Shucker-Packer (SP): a certified dealer who shucks and packs shellfish. A Shucker Packer may act as a shellstock shipper or reshipper or may repack shellfish originating from other certified dealers.

Shellstock Shipper (SS): a certified dealer who buys shellstock (shellfish in the shell) from a harvester or who repacks or retags shellstock purchased from another certified dealer.

Repacker (RP): a certified dealer, other than the original certified shucker packer, who repackages shucked shellfish into other containers.

Reshipper (RS): a person who purchases shucked shellfish or shellstock from certified dealers and sells the product without repacking or relabeling to other dealers, wholesalers or retailers.