New report on seaweed and food safety by FAO and WHO - aided by SusKelpFood scientists
Nov 21, 2022

SusKelpFood scientists Susan Løvstad Holdt and Arne Duinker have participated in a group of experts behind this report. The background for the report is that on one side there is a large global need for increased primary food production, due to the increase in world population and also decreased food production due to climate changes. On the other hand, certain hazards in seaweed present potential moderate to minor food safety concerns. There is presently no Codex standard or guidelines that specifically address food safety in seaweeds, and regional and national legislation on food safety hazards in seaweed are generally lacking.

The document reviews the available/accessible information on food safety in seaweed and makes recommendations for discussions and action on the findings. It reports that although morbidities and mortalities linked to the consumption of seaweeds are rare, the limited and scattered data available suggest that certain hazards in seaweed present potential moderate to minor food safety concerns. These include: chemical hazards such as heavy metals (principally inorganic arsenic and cadmium), persistent organic pollutants (e.g. dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls), radionuclides and pesticide residues; microbiological hazards (e.g. Salmonella spp., Bacillus spp., and norovirus); physical hazards (e.g. metal pieces, glass splinters, crustacean shells, micro- and nanoplastics); and allergens. Consequently, the report recommends, among other things: the collection and evaluation of seaweed consumption data at national and regional levels; the monitoring of seaweed food and feed products for food safety hazards; and a risk assessment/risk profiling of the relevant seaweed hazard groupings to as certain their public health significance. It is desired that following those recommendations will support a much-needed drive to develop appropriate Codex guidelines/standards and regional/national legislation. Such standards and/or legislation would in turn safeguard the production, processing and utilization of seaweed for food and feed, with due regard for the interests of all stakeholders along the value chain.

Report of the expert meeting on food safety for seaweed – Current status and future perspectives