A study by a researcher at the University of Coimbra concluded that there is no universal methodology for assessing the levels of mercury in fish and shellfish that the body can digest.
Study published in the journal Marine Pollution BulletinPoint at “the need to create a universal methodology for assessing the bioavailability of mercury (Hg), a toxic heavy metal”in fish and shellfish species, the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) said today in a press release sent to Lusa.
Bioavailability “translated as what the human body can absorb from the food” it consumes.being a relevant tool for determining the maximum values of pollutants that can be consumed throughout life without risk to health.
“In very low concentrations, mercury does not pose a risk to human health, but its long-term accumulation can have harmful effects,” he emphasizes.
In this sense, a study led by a researcher from the Center for Functional Ecology Filipe Costa sought to evaluate “the fraction of bioavailable mercury in fish and shellfish found in the Mediterranean diet”namely species caught in the ocean (black swordfish, tuna, swordfish, blue shark), aquaculture species (salmon and mussels) and estuarine species (mullet and clams).
The results of the study show that the bioavailable mercury found in these fish and shellfish species “especially after cooking, this is far below the levels set by current safety risk assessment legislation.”
However, the group, which also includes researchers from the University of Aveiro, noted “that the assessment of the bioavailability of mercury in fish and shellfish depends on the method used, since each extraction method gives different results.”
“Among the three extraction methods tested, the Unified Bioavailability Method (UBM) gave the highest rating for mercury bioavailability to consumers.”the press release says.
Cooking reduces mercury
Regarding the cooking methods used, “they all significantly reduced the proportion of bioavailable mercury”, that is, there was a “reduction in the content of this pollutant”, said Filipe Costa, quoted in the note.
FCTUC reports that “Current food safety legislation only considers the total concentration of contaminants in fish and shellfish, without taking into account the bioavailability of the contaminant during digestion and the effect of cooking regimes on the solubility of the contaminant in the digestive tract.”