Risk assessment of methylmercury in five European countries considering the national seafood consumption patterns

Silke Jacobs, Isabelle Sioen, Liesbeth Jacxsens, José L. Domingo, Jens Jørgen Sloth, António Marques, Wim Verbeke

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Although seafood is a nutritious protein source, due to marine environmental pollution, seafood may also be a source of contaminants. The results obtained within the FP7-ECsafeSEAFOOD-project show that among the range of studied environmental contaminants certainly methylmercury (MeHg) requires deeper investigation. This paper presents the results of a probabilistic risk assessment for MeHg based on: (1) primary concentration data, as well as secondary data from published papers, and (2) primary species-specific consumption data collected in five European countries (Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain). The results indicated that in the southern European countries, larger subgroups of the population (up to 11% in Portugal) are potentially at risk for a MeHg exposure above the Tolerable Weekly Intake (TWI) value, while this risk is much lower in Ireland and Belgium. This research confirms the substantial contribution of tuna to MeHg exposure in each of the countries. Also hake, cod, sea bream, sea bass and octopus are identified as important contributors. From this study, it is concluded that a country-specific seafood consumption advice is needed. Policy makers may adopt the results of this study in order to develop consumer advices that optimise health benefits versus potential health risks by providing species-specific information.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Pages (from-to)26-34
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Food Science
  • Toxicology
  • European consumers
  • Exposure
  • MethylMercury
  • Risk assessment
  • Seafood species


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