Project

ECsafeSEAFOOD - Priority environmental contaminants in seafood: safety assessment, impact and public perception

ECsafeSEAFOOD will assess food safety issues related to priority contaminants present in seafood as a result of environmental contamination (including those originating from harmful algal blooms and those associated with marine litter) and evaluate their impact on public health.

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Seafood has been recognised as a high-quality, healthy and safe food type and is one of the most important food commodities consumed worldwide. However, seafood, like other types of food, can also be a source of harmful environmental contaminants with potential to impact on human health.

ECsafeSEAFOOD will provide scientific evidence to serve as a basis for further development of common food safety, public health and environmental policies and measures, by seeking to establish a quantitative link between the contamination of the marine environment and that of seafood.

Aim / Objectives

The specific objectives of the ECsafeSEAFOOD project are to:

  • Monitor the presence of priority environmental contaminants in the environment and seafood and prioritise those that are real hazards for human health.
  • Quantify the transfer of relevant priority environmental contaminants between the environment and seafood, taking into account the effect of climate change.
  • Optimise methods for the detection and quantification of emerging toxins from harmful algal blooms.
  • Study the effect of processing/cooking on the behaviour of priority contaminants in seafood.
  • Investigate what information is needed and how it should be disseminated to consumers in order to reduce public health risks from seafood consumption, taking into account the possible impact on public opinion, in coordination with risk managers.
  • Understand the public health impacts of these chemical hazards, through toxicological characterisation in realistic conditions.
  • Perform risk assessment to measure the potential impact of seafood contaminants on public health, using in-depth probabilistic exposure tools.
  • Develop mitigation measures for risk managers, such as an online tool for different stakeholders, guidelines, phycoremediation (the use of algae to remove pollutants) and processing.
  • Develop, validate and provide new, easy and fast tools to assess the presence of environmental contaminants in seafood.
  • Confirm/refine the European Maximum Reference Levels in seafood for contaminants that are real hazards and for which no legislation exists, or information is still insufficient.

Expected results and impact

The European added value lies in offering safe, high-quality seafood to consumers, as well as in a strengthening the competitiveness of European food producers. The results of ECsafeSEAFOOD will be of interest and potential benefit to food-producing SMEs. Scientific advice will be provided to serve as a basis for further development of common food safety, public health and environmental policies and measures. The ECsafeSEAFOOD project will also contribute to descriptors nine and ten of the Marine Strategic Framework Directive (MSFD) (2008/56/EC) by seeking to establish a quantitative link between the contamination of the marine environment and that of seafood.

Overall, the ECsafeSEAFOOD will have tangible impacts in terms of:

  • European competitiveness and innovation, particularly of food-producing SMEs and local communities.
  • Offering safe and high quality seafood to consumers.
  • Positive economic effects as a result of increasing seafood consumption due to higher awareness and confidence in these products in Europe.
  • Scientific breakthroughs including priority contaminants monitoring, risk assessment and toxicity, as well as by establishing a quantitative link between the contamination of the marine environment and that of seafood, taking into account climate change aspects.
  • Societal impacts: improving education, increasing employment, improving nutrition and increasing the sustainability of an important food sector.