Arsenic and other elements in algae and dietary supplements based on algae

Avis n° 9149

Algae and other marine products are known to generally contain high levels of Arsenic (As) species (organic and inorganic) as well as other contaminants such as Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb) and Mercury (Hg). Some algae products are sporadically consumed as such (e.g. seaweed salads) by the general population but it seems that some segments of the population, such as the vegetarians, are preferential consumers of algae (products). In addition, people with particular deficiencies (e.g. Iodine) or with other different needs (e.g. weight loss or detoxification) are quite regular consumers of a variety of food supplements (FS) derived from algae and, hence, potentially rich in As species. In order to better evaluate the risks posed specifically for the regular consumers of such foodstuffs and FS, a risk assessment has been carried out. First of all, a literature study has been performed in order to gather all relevant information about the toxicity of the various As species (organic and inorganic) that can be found in marine products, in general, and in algae, more specifically. Then, contamination data were gathered from the Belgian food agency control program as well as from the general scientific literature. Due to a lack of formal consumption data, several intake scenarios were elaborated in order to assess the exposure by the concerned people and to perform the risk characterization, taking into account the oral background exposure of the general population and the additional exposure for some target groups such as vegetarians and FS consumers. From this assessment, it appears that consumers of algae-based FS are not exposed to a substantial additional intake of the most toxic As species, iAs (inorganic As - i.e. arsenate, Asand arsenite, AsIII ). “Normal” consumers of algae products (i.e. not more than 7 g/day) seem to be exposed to a relative low risk whilst the heavy consumers of algae, such as seaweed salads, could be at risk when their daily consumption reaches levels as high as 21 g of the products as sold (i.e. not hydrated before consumption). Algae belonging to the Hijiki species (Hisikia fusiforme) generally contain larger amounts of iAs than other species; therefore, consumers of such algae are exposed to iAs levels that have a potentially high impact on their health. Additionally, the probable presence of other toxic elements, such as heavy metals, in algae can also have a negative impact on the consumers’ health.

 

Keywords

 

Keywords

Mesh terms*

Sleutelwoorden

Mots clés

Stichworte

Food legislation

Legislation, Food

Voedingswetgeving

Législation, nutrition

Gesetzgebung

Food supplement

Dietary supplement

Voedingssupplement

Complément alimentaire

Nahrungsergänz ungsmittel

Food safety

Food Safety

Voedselveiligheid

Sécurité alimentaire

 

Risk assessment

Risk assessment

Risicoanalyse

Evaluation des risques

Risikobewertung

Heavy metals

Heavy metals

Zware metalen

Métaux lourds

 

Arsenic

Arsenic

Arseen

Arsénique

 

Cadmium

Cadmium

Cadmium

Cadmium

 

Lead

Lead

Lood

Plomb

 

Mercury

Mercury

Kwik

Mercure

 

Algae

Algae

Algen

Algues

 

* MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is the NLM controlled vocabulary thesaurus used for indexing articles for PubMed.

 

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Date de publication: 21/04/2015
 

KCE