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Low Levels of Heavy Metals Found in Norwegian Cod

25 October 2013

NORWAY - Tests show that the concentration of heavy metals in cod from Salten in Nordland in Norway is low.

This is one of the results of the annual “Polluted harbours and fjords” surveillance programme that NIFES performs on behalf of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

This year’s investigation is a result of previous findings of high concentrations of the heavy metal cadmium in crabs caught in waters around Salten.

Previously the pesticide toxaphene has been found in cod taken in Bodø harbour, and NIFES therefore also analysed the fish samples for a number of pesticides, including toxaphene. The concentrations were low, and no higher than those found at other stations on the coast of Norway.

“Our analyses show that the level of cadmium and other heavy metals and insecticides are so low that they are not a problem for food safety,” says NIFES head of research, Robin Ørnsrud.

NIFES analysed fillets from 108 cod and 23 pooled samples of liver for a range of heavy metals, including cadmium, arsenic and mercury. The concentrations of these heavy metals were all below the European Union’s maximum level for sales of fish for human consumption.

The mean cadmium levels were 25 times lower than the maximum level (0.05 mg cadmium/kg fillet). The cadmium concentration was slightly higher in the livers of fish caught west of Bodø in the County of Nordland than in fish taken off Fauske in the same county. So far, the scientists do not know why these values differ.

In 2011, on behalf of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, NIFES looked at cadmium concentrations in tusk, halibut and redfish from the Salten area. This study also revealed that the levels of this heavy metal were below the maximum levels in these species.

The aim of the “Polluted harbours and fjords” monitoring programme is to acquire better knowledge of contaminants in fish and seafood caught by recreational fishermen for private consumption.

Further Reading

You can view the full report (in Norwegian) by clicking here.


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