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Protection Against Acute Effects Of Marine Biotoxins In Shellfish

EU - In July 2006 the European Commission (EC) requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to provide a scientific opinion to assess the current European Union (EU) limits with regard to human health and methods of analysis for various marine biotoxins as established in the EU legislation, including new emerging toxins.

In response, EFSA’s Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) has developed and adopted a series of scientific opinions related to marine biotoxins: okadaic acid (OA) and analogues, azaspiracid (AZA)-group toxins, yessotoxin (YTX)-group toxins, saxitoxin (STX)-group toxins, pectenotoxin (PTX)-group toxins, domoic acid (DA), palytoxin (PlTX)-group toxins, ciguatoxin (CTX)-group toxins, cyclic imines (CIs) and brevetoxin (BTX)-group toxins. In addition, a statement on the influence of processing on the levels of lipophilic marine biotoxins in bivalve molluscs and a summary opinion on the currently regulated marine biotoxins have been issued.

At the time of writing of the first opinion, consumption data on shellfish types across the EU were limited and therefore EFSA requested member states (MSs) to provide information on consumption of relevant shellfish types. Based on the data provided by five MSs, the CONTAM Panel identified 400 g of shellfish meat as an appropriate estimate of a large portion size consumed in Europe to be used in its risk assessments in order to protect high consumers against acute effects of marine biotoxins. This portion size was then applied to all other scientific opinions on marine biotoxins. Recently EC has received new data from Belgium, France, Portugal and Spain on the shellfish portion sizes consumed and therefore asked EFSA to assess the new consumption data submitted by the MSs on shellfish portion size in order to evaluate whether the CONTAM Panel’s established estimate of the consumption figure of 400 g shellfish meat is appropriate for protecting high consumers against acute effects of marine biotoxins. The CONTAM Panel considered these new data and also the data present now in the EFSA Comprehensive European food consumption database (Comprehensive Database).

Based on the information present in the EFSA Comprehensive Database, the CONTAM Panel estimated that the proportions of consuming days exceeding 100 g shellfish were 0.5-3 per cent(Spain), nine per cent (Ireland), 13 per cent (Italy), 14 per cent (Finland), 18 per cent (Germany), 19 per cent (UK), 24 per cent(France) and 48 per cent (Belgium), while the proportions of consuming days exceeding 200 g shellfish were two per cent(Italy), 2.5 per cent (France), four per cent(Ireland),seven per cent (UK), 11 per cent (Belgium) and 15 per cent (Germany).

The CONTAM Panel considered the 95th percentile as a realistic estimate of the large portion size to protect high consumers against acute effects of marine biotoxins in shellfish. Revised consumption data for “consumers only” submitted by France indicate a 95th percentile of consumption of bivalve molluscs of 300 g. This value supports the earlier established estimate of a large portion size of 400 g shellfish meat. Evaluation of the EFSA Comprehensive European food consumption database (Comprehensive Database) shows a highest 95th percentile portion size for shellfish meat of 251 g with an upper confidence limit of 500 g. Also these data do not warrant a revision of the earlier established estimate of a large portion size. Therefore the CONTAM Panel concluded that the earlier estimate of a large portion size of 400 g shellfish meat is appropriate for protecting high consumers against acute effects of marine biotoxins.

the Fish Site Editor

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