EU Food Alert – Mercury in Fish

Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine,
31. January 2012

From 11. July 2011 to 19. January 2012, 49 ‘food alert’ or ‘information for attention’ notifications concerning too high levels of mercury in marine fish were issued by the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.

In the European Community, the maximum permitted level of mercury in fish is 0.5 mg/kg, with the exception of certain larger predatory species ( = 1.0 mg Hg / kg ).

In 87.76 percent of the 49 cases, high concentration of mercury above the legal limit was detected in at least 12 different species of bony fish (Osteichthyes). The most affected species was the broadbill swordfish (Xiphias gladius) with ca. 55 percent of all cases. The highest concentration of mercury was also detected in frozen swordfish from Brazil.

Four species of cartilaginous fish (sharks and rays) were involved in 12.25 percent of the alert notifications.

Food Alert Notifications by Species:

Total = 49 cases

Chondrichtyes :

3 cases = Blue shark (Prionace glauca)

1 case = Common smooth-hound (Mustelus mustelus).

1 case = ‘Moro shark’ (? shortfin mako, Isurus oxyrinchus).

1 case = Ray.

Total = 6 cases (12,245 %)

Osteichthyes :

27 cases = Swordfish ( Xiphias gladius).

4 cases = Tuna

  • 1 x Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares).
  • 2 x Little tunny (Euthynnus alleteratus).
  • 1 x Unknown species.

3 cases = Dentex spp. ( 2 x Dentex angolensis ).

3 cases = Angler or monkfish (Lophius piscatorius).

1 case = Greater amberjack (Seriola dumerilii).

1 case = Bluefin gurnard (Chelidonichthys kumu).

1 case = Scorpion fish (Scorpaena scrofa).

1 case = Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata).

1 case = Comet grouper (Epinephelus morrhua).

1 case = Unknown species.

Total = 43 cases (87.755 %)

List of RASFF ‘Food Alert’ or ‘Information for Attention’ Notifications
in descending chronological order :

Notification date: 19. January 2012
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled lions of swordfish.
Origin: France, Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.58 mg/kg – ppm

Notification date: 18. January 2012.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in slices of swordfish.
Origin: Brazil (via Italy).
Distributed to: Italy, Spain.
Analytical Result: 2.08 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 13. January 2012.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen sliced swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: Portugal.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.72 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: official detention

Notification date: 12. January 2012.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen sliced moro shark
Origin: South Africa.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.48 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 11. January 2012.
Notification from: France.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish.
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: France.
Analytical Result: 1.655 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 09. January 2012.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in sliced frozen blue shark (Prionace glauca)
Origin: manufactured in Italy, with raw material from Vietnam.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.71 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market

Notification date: 27. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled dentex.
Origin: Egypt.
Distributed to: Spain.
Analytical Result: 0.8 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 23. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.33 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: official detention.

Notification date: 14. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled ray.
Origin: France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.3 mg/kg – ppm.
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 09. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish slices.
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.4 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 08. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled greater amberjack (Seriola dumerilii).
Origin: Greece.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 0.886  mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: no action taken.

Notification date: 08. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias Gladius).
Origin: France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.4 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: official detention

Notification date: 05. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: Senegal, processed in Spain.
Distributed to: France, Italy, Netherlands.
Analytical Result: 1.33 µg/kg – ppb ( Note: wrong unit ? )
Action taken: destruction.

Notification date: 05. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.3; 1.4; 1.2  mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: destruction.

Notification date: 05. December 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled bluefin gurnard (Chelidonichthys kumu)
Origin: New Zealand.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 0.66 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 30. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in monkfish (Lophius piscatorius).
Origin: Italy, via France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.6  mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: destruction

Notification date: 29. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in packed slices of swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
Origin: Morocco, via Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.2 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 24. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
Origin: France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.1 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 23. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen vacuum packed swordfish slices.
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.2 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 22. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen precooked tuna.
Origin: Colombia.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.2 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 18. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Merury in vacuum-packed slices of swordfish
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.78 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: destruction.

Notification date: 16. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.0 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 10. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.2 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: official detention.

Notification date: 09. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in angler fish (Lophius piscatorius).
Origin: France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.7 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 09. November 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.6 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 31. October 2011.
Notification from: France.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled scorpion fish (Scorpaena scrofa).
Origin: Algeria.
Distributed to: France.
Analytical Result: 0.662 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 31. October 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in vacuum packed swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: France, Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.58 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: no action taken

Notification date: 27. October 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in monkfish tail (Lophius piscatorius).
Origin: Italy.
Distributed to: France, Italy.
Analytical Result: 2.1 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: recall from consumers.

Notification date: 18. October 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in swordfish slices (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.87  mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 10. October 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish.
Origin:  Portugal, via Spain.
Distributed to: Italy, Spain.
Analytical Result: 1.68 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: no action taken

Notification date: 04. October 2011.
Notification from: Germany.
Notification Description: Mercury in fish (Dentex angolensis).
Origin:  Senegal.
Distributed to: Germany.
Analytical Result: 1.05 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: informing authorities (product already consumed)

Notification date: 03. October 2011.
Notification from: France.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: South Korea
Distributed to: France, Italy, Spain.
Analytical Result: 1.463 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 30. September 2011.
Notification from: Greece.
Notification Description: Mercury in canned tuna (Eythynnus alleratus)
Origin: Turkey.
Distributed to: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands.
Analytical Result: 1.4 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: informing authorities

Notification date: 30. September 2011.
Notification from: Greece.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled Dentex angolensis
Origin: Senegal.
Distributed to: Greece.
Analytical Result: 0.60 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: informing authorities

Notification date: 23. September 2011.
Notification from: Greece.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen headless-skinned blue shark (Prionace glauca).
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Greece.
Analytical Result: 1.7 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: recall from consumers.

Notification date: 23. September 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen swordfish.
Origin: Brazil, via Spain.
Distributed to: Germany, Italy, Spain.
Analytical Result: 3.2 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: return to dispatcher.

Notification date: 23. September 2011.
Notification from: Malta.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish.
Origin: Malta.
Distributed to: Malta.
Analytical Result: 2.0 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: no action taken.

Notification date: 22. September 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled dogfish (Mustelus mustelus)
Origin: United Kingdom, via France.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.5  mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market

Notification date: 20. September 2011.
Notification from: Malta.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish.
Origin: Malta.
Distributed to: Malta.
Analytical Result: 2.4 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 19. September 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen blue shark steaks (Prionace glauca).
Origin: Vietnam
Distributed to: –
Analytical Result: 1.5  mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: re-dispatch or destruction
NOTIFICATION  WITHDRAWN

Notification date: 19. September 2011.
Notification from: Malta.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled swordfish.
Origin: Malta.
Distributed to: Malta.
Analytical Result: 1.5 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: no action taken

Notification date: 15. September 2011.
Notification from: France.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: Indonesia.
Distributed to: –
Analytical Result: 1.362 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: re-dispatch.

Notification date: 15. September 2011.
Notification from: Malta.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen swordfish.
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Malta.
Analytical Result: 2.9 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: recall from consumers

Notification date: 14. September 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in frozen tuna fillet (Thunnus albacares).
Origin: Spain.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.078 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market
NOTIFICATION  WITHDRAWN

Notification date: 09. September 2011.
Notification from: France.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled fish.
Origin: Morocco.
Distributed to: –
Analytical Result: 0.754 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: destruction

Notification date: 07. September 2011.
Notification from: France.
Notification Description: Mercury in gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata).
Origin: Morocco.
Distributed to: France (product past best before date).
Analytical Result: 1.61 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken:

Notification date: 22. July 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled little tunny (Euthynnus alleteratus).
Origin: Greece.
Distributed to: Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.927 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 14. July 2011.
Notification from: France.
Notification Description: Mercury in chilled comet grouper (Epinephelus morrhua).
Origin: Mauritius.
Distributed to: Luxembourg.
Analytical Result: 0.704 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market.

Notification date: 11. July 2011.
Notification from: Italy.
Notification Description: Mercury in sliced swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
Origin: Chile, via Spain.
Distributed to: France, Italy.
Analytical Result: 1.38 mg/kg – ppm
Action taken: withdrawal from the market

 Note: You can see previous notifiactions ( sharks only ) that were issued in March-July 2011  here.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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