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Risk and Benefit Assessment of Potential Nurodevelopmental Effect Resulting from Fish Consumption in China

Updated:2015-04-10 Clicks:8004

Recently, a study on “Risk and Benefit Assessment of Potential Nurodevelopmental Effect Resulting from Consumption of Marine Fish from a Coastal Archipelago in China” was conducted by Key Lab of Food Safety Risk Assessment, CFSA, published in J Agric Food Chem 2014, 62(22): 5207-13.


Fish can provide important nutrients to human body, including n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), minerals and vitamins. N-3 PUFAs, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), confer benefits to brain and visual system development in infants. However, fish also contain methylmercury (MeHg), a known neurotoxicant that is particularly harmful to fetal brain development. Therefore, a balanced risk-bene?t assessment is required.


In this study, 31 fish species from Zhoushan fishery which is the largest fishery in southeast China were analysed. These species are the most consumed by the local general population. Through analyzing the levels of EPA plus DHA and MeHg level, risk and benefit assessment of potential nurodevelopmental effect resulting from consumption was conducted and the consumption advice for fish species selection was recommended.


What About Methylmercury in Fish?

The mean concentrations of MeHg of all fish species ranged from 7.7 μg/kg (Mugil cephalus) to 166.6 μg/kg (Scoliodon sorrakowah), all below the legally set value for fish. The largest exposure of MeHg in this study would be found in extreme scenario (450 g/week) consumers when they consumed the species (Scoliodon Sorrakowah) with the highest concentration of MeHg. The intake amount of MeHg (1.68 μg/kg bw/week) was slightly higher than the PTWI which was proposed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. While the extreme consumption scenario (450 g/week) of other species and the common consumption scenario (175 g/week) of all species could not result in a weekly MeHg intake over the PTWI.


Risk-Benefit Assessment of Potential Nurodevelopmental Effect

The risk-benefit assessment of potential nurodevelopmental effect was carried out based on an approach developed by FAO/ WHO. Net IQ point gain was obtained by equations for quantitative integration. Except for Scoliodon sorrakowah, both common or extreme consumption scenario maternal consumption would result in a positive neurodevelopmental effect in terms of change of net IQ points.


Consumption Advice for FIsh Species Selection

The study found that neurodevelopmental benefits of EPA plus DHA intake outweighed risks of MeHg exposure for all fish species except Scoliodon sorrakowah at either the common or extreme consumption scenario. Hence, comparing to other fish species, the consumption of Scoliodon Sorrakowah is not recommended to pregnant and breast-feeding women. Since the content of EPA plus DHA and content of MeHg are different in variety fish species, the optimal weekly consumption of fish species can be estimated which range from 63.0 g/week (Auxis thazard) to 1580.7 g/week (Seriola quinqueradiata). While it appears that the application of common or extreme consumption scenario is more practical than of optimal weekly consumption. In addition,eating a variety of fish is recommended to pregnant and breast-feeding women.


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