Heavy metal accumulation in and food safety of shark meat from Jeju island

Published on
13. March 2019

Heavy metal accumulation in and food safety of shark meat from Jeju island, Republic of Korea

Sang Wha Kim, Se Jin Han, Yonggab Kim, Jin Woo Jun, Sib Sankar Giri, Cheng Chi, Saekil Yun, Hyoun Joong Kim, Sang Guen Kim, Jeong Woo Kang, Jun Kwon, Woo Taek Oh, Jehyun Cha, Seunghee Han, Byeong Chun Lee, Taesung Park, Byung Yeop Kim, Se Chang Park


Shark meat is consumed as a food source worldwide, especially in Asian countries. However, since sharks are apex predators in the ocean food chain, they are prone to bioaccumulation of heavy metals. More than 100 million sharks are caught annually for human consumption, and the safety of shark meat cannot be overemphasized. Here, we examined heavy metal concentration in the muscle tissue of 6 shark species including 3 migratory species (Carcharhinus brachyurus, Carcharhinus obscurus, and Isurus oxyrinchus) and 3 local species (Triakis scyllium, Mustelus manazo, and Cephaloscyllium umbratile) from fish markets in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. The concentrations of 11 heavy metals (Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Cd, Sn, Sb, Pb, and Hg) and MeHg were analyzed. The result showed that the average concentrations of all metals, except for that of As, were below the regulatory maximum limits of many organizations, including the Codex standard. Hg and MeHg were significantly correlated with body length, body weight, and age, and the concentration of Hg was expected to exceed the limit in C. brachyurus with a body length or weight of over 130 cm or 25 kg, respectively. Our results indicate that shark meat can expose consumers to a high level of As and that copper sharks bigger than the predicted size should be avoided for excessive Hg. Considering these findings, a detailed guideline on consumption of meat of different shark species should be suggested based on further investigation.

PLoS ONE 14(3): e0212410. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212410


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