Probabilistic dietary exposure to phycotoxins in a recreational shellfish harvester subpopulation (France)

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Abstract

Phycotoxins, secondary phytoplankton metabolites, are considered as an important food safety issue because their accumulation by shellfish may render them unfit for human consumption. However, the likely intakes of phycotoxins via shellfish consumption are almost unknown because both contamination and consumption data are very scarce. Thus, two 1-year surveys were conducted (through the same population: recreational shellfish harvesters and from the same geographical area) to assess: shellfish consumption and contamination by major toxins (domoic acid (DA) group, okadaic acid (OA) group and spirolides (SPXs)). Recreational shellfish harvesters had been targeted as an at-risk subpopulation because they consume more shellfish than general population and because they eat not only commercial shellfish species controlled by official authorities but also their own harvests of shellfish species may be in non-controlled areas and more over shellfish species non-considered in the official control species. Then, these two kinds of data were combined with deterministic and probabilistic approaches for both acute and chronic exposures, on considering the impact of shellfish species and cooking on phycotoxin levels. For acute risk, monitoring programs seem to be adequate for DAs, whereas OAs could be a matter of concern for high consumers (their acute intakes were up to ninefold the acute reference dose (ARfD)). About chronic risk, OAs are a matter of concern. The daily OAs intakes were close to the ARfD, which is, by definition, greater than the tolerable daily intake. Moreover, SPX contamination is low but regular, no (sub)chronic SPX toxicity data exist; but in case of (sub)chronic toxicity, SPX exposure should be considered.

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