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Concept: Shellfish


The ubiquity of anthropogenic debris in hundreds of species of wildlife and the toxicity of chemicals associated with it has begun to raise concerns regarding the presence of anthropogenic debris in seafood. We assessed the presence of anthropogenic debris in fishes and shellfish on sale for human consumption. We sampled from markets in Makassar, Indonesia, and from California, USA. All fish and shellfish were identified to species where possible. Anthropogenic debris was extracted from the digestive tracts of fish and whole shellfish using a 10% KOH solution and quantified under a dissecting microscope. In Indonesia, anthropogenic debris was found in 28% of individual fish and in 55% of all species. Similarly, in the USA, anthropogenic debris was found in 25% of individual fish and in 67% of all species. Anthropogenic debris was also found in 33% of individual shellfish sampled. All of the anthropogenic debris recovered from fish in Indonesia was plastic, whereas anthropogenic debris recovered from fish in the USA was primarily fibers. Variations in debris types likely reflect different sources and waste management strategies between countries. We report some of the first findings of plastic debris in fishes directly sold for human consumption raising concerns regarding human health.

Concepts: Human, Fish, Pacific Ocean, Vertebrate, Seafood, Fishing, Waste, Shellfish


Food allergy among children is common, affecting up to 8% of children younger than 3 years of age.(1) It can be serious, even fatal, with hospital-discharge data from the United States documenting an increasing trend of food-induced anaphylaxis.(2) In order to minimize accidental exposure to foods to which a child could be allergic, many schools in the United States have a “no sharing” policy for food.(3) For decades, we had been trying to stem the rising tide of food allergy by urging parents to avoid exposing their children to foods such as egg, peanut, and fish early in life - . . .

Concepts: Asthma, Egg, United States, Allergy, Food, Maize, Food allergy, Shellfish


The periodic occurrence of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins in UK surf clams and the recent move away from biological assays for PSP testing resulted in the need to determine method performance characteristics for the replacement analytical method in this species. With the requirement for laboratory reference materials to aid this validation together with known issues relating to toxin transformation in live clams and homogenised tissue, there was the need to assess the toxin transformation characteristics of PSP toxins in surf clam tissue. Initial work examined the rates of toxin transformation in UK surf clam tissue incubated with toxin standards, showing rapid transformation of N-sulfocarbamoyl toxins with slower transformation of carbamate toxins. Full transformational pathways were determined using a combination of three different analytical methods and confirmed the major expected transformations involving decarbamoylation, with some evidence for additional reaction pathways. Results obtained from the analysis of surf clam and oyster tissues incubated with varying concentrations of toxic Alexandrium algae highlighted expected transformation reactions, although significant differences were observed in the extent of the transformations amongst the range of toxins studied, with less efficient transformation of N-hydroxylated toxins as compared with other carbamate and N-sulfocarbamoyl toxins. Analysis of PSP-toxic incurred oyster, scallop and mussel tissues incubated with variable proportions of surf clam tissue showed large differences in the extent of the transformations. Total conversion of N-sulfocarbamoyl toxins was confirmed at low relative proportions of surf clam tissue in all three species, whereas transformation of carbamate toxins was found to occur only in the presence of higher proportions of surf clam tissue in oysters and mussels in comparison with scallops. Results enabled the production of three laboratory reference materials prepared following incubation of incurred homogenates with optimum proportions of surf clam tissue, resulting in materials containing a large number of PSP toxins. Stability experiments provided good preliminary evidence for the stability of these targeted materials under storage conditions. The work therefore provides both additional information relating to the transformational activity in UK surf clams and highlights a good potential method for the targeted production of reference materials which include a wider range of toxins than normally present in naturally incurred shellfish.

Concepts: Seafood, Bivalvia, Mussel, Shellfish, Clam, Scallop, Paralytic shellfish poisoning, Shellfish poisoning


Microplastics (MPs) are the most numerous debris reported in marine environments and assessment of the amounts of MPs that accumulate in wild organisms is necessary for risk assessment. Our objective was to assess MP contamination in mussels collected around the coast of Scotland (UK) to identify characteristics of MPs and to evaluate risk of human exposure to MPs via ingestion of mussels. We deployed caged mussels (Mytilus edulis) in an urbanised estuary (Edinburgh, UK) to assess seasonal changes in plastic pollution, and collected mussels (Mytilus spp and subtidal Modiolus modiolus) from eight sampling stations around Scotland to enumerate MP types at different locations. We determined the potential exposure of humans to household dust fibres during a meal to compare with amounts of MPs present in edible mussels. The mean number of MPs in M. modiolus was 0.086 ± 0.031 (SE, n = 6)/g ww (3.5 ± 1.29 (SE) per mussel). In Mytilus spp, the mean number of MPs/g ww was 3.0 ± 0.9 (SE, n = 36) (3.2 ± 0.52 (SE) per mussel), but weight dependent. The visual accuracy of plastic fibres identification was estimated to be between 48 and 50%, using Nile Red staining and FT-IR methodologies, respectively, halving the observed amounts of MPs in wild mussels. We observed an allometric relationship between the number of MPs and the mussels wet weight. Our predictions of MPs ingestion by humans via consumption of mussels is 123 MP particles/y/capita in the UK and can go up to 4620 particles/y/capita in countries with a higher shellfish consumption. By comparison, the risk of plastic ingestion via mussel consumption is minimal when compared to fibre exposure during a meal via dust fallout in a household (13,731-68,415 particles/Y/capita).

Concepts: Evaluation, United Kingdom, Arithmetic mean, Member of Parliament, Mussel, Shellfish, Mytilidae, Edible molluscs


Maintaining food production while sustaining productive ecosystems is among the central challenges of our time, yet, it has been for millennia. Ancient clam gardens, intertidal rock-walled terraces constructed by humans during the late Holocene, are thought to have improved the growing conditions for clams. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the beach slope, intertidal height, and biomass and density of bivalves at replicate clam garden and non-walled clam beaches in British Columbia, Canada. We also quantified the variation in growth and survival rates of littleneck clams (Leukoma staminea) we experimentally transplanted across these two beach types. We found that clam gardens had significantly shallower slopes than non-walled beaches and greater densities of L. staminea and Saxidomus giganteus, particularly at smaller size classes. Overall, clam gardens contained 4 times as many butter clams and over twice as many littleneck clams relative to non-walled beaches. As predicted, this relationship varied as a function of intertidal height, whereby clam density and biomass tended to be greater in clam gardens compared to non-walled beaches at relatively higher intertidal heights. Transplanted juvenile L. staminea grew 1.7 times faster and smaller size classes were more likely to survive in clam gardens than non-walled beaches, specifically at the top and bottom of beaches. Consequently, we provide strong evidence that ancient clam gardens likely increased clam productivity by altering the slope of soft-sediment beaches, expanding optimal intertidal clam habitat, thereby enhancing growing conditions for clams. These results reveal how ancient shellfish aquaculture practices may have supported food security strategies in the past and provide insight into tools for the conservation, management, and governance of intertidal seascapes today.

Concepts: Food, Mussel, Shellfish, Clam, Scallop, Edible molluscs, Hard clam, Veneridae


Current US federal dietary guidance recommends regular consumption of seafood (fish + shellfish) to promote health; however, little is known about how well Americans meet the guideline, particularly population subgroups that may be at risk for inadequate intake. The purposes of this study were to describe the prevalence of seafood consumption and, among consumers, the amounts of seafood eaten by sex, age group, income and education level, and race-ethnicity. Data from 15,407 adults aged 19+ participating in the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys were analyzed using methods to account for sporadic intake of seafood. Over 80% of Americans reported consuming any seafood over the past 30 days, 74% reported consuming fish, and 54% reported eating shellfish. The percentages varied by socio-demographic group. Younger age and lower income and education levels were associated with lower odds of being a seafood consumer (p < 0.0001). Among those who reported eating seafood, the average amount eaten of any seafood was 158.2 ± 5.6 g/week. Among seafood consumers, women and individuals of lower age and education levels consumed less seafood. Approximately 80%-90% of seafood consumers did not meet seafood recommendations when needs were estimated by energy requirements. A great deal of work remains to move Americans toward seafood consumption at current recommended levels.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fish, Eating, Food, Higher education, Seafood, Shellfish, Consumer theory


Allergy to cow’s milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish constitutes the majority of food allergy reactions, but reliable estimates of their prevalence are lacking. This systematic review aimed to provide up-to-date estimates of their prevalence in Europe.Studies published in Europe from January 1, 2000, to September 30, 2012, were identified from searches of four electronic databases. Two independent reviewers appraised the studies and extracted the estimates of interest. Data were pooled using random-effects meta-analyses. Fifty studies were included in a narrative synthesis and 42 studies in the meta-analyses. Although there were significant heterogeneity between the studies, the overall pooled estimates for all age groups of self-reported lifetime prevalence of allergy to cow’s milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish were 6.0% (95% confidence interval: 5.7-6.4), 2.5% (2.3-2.7), 3.6% (3.0-4.2), 0.4% (0.3-0.6), 1.3% (1.2-1.5), 2.2% (1.8-2.5), and 1.3% (0.9-1.7), respectively. The prevalence of food-challenge-defined allergy to cow’s milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish was 0.6% (0.5-0.8), 0.2% (0.2-0.3), 0.1% (0.01-0.2), 0.3% (0.1-0.4), 0.2% (0.2-0.3), 0.5% (0.08-0.8), 0.1% (0.02-0.2), and 0.1% (0.06-0.3), respectively. Allergy to cow’s milk and egg was more common among younger children, while allergy to peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish was more common among the older ones. There were insufficient data to compare the estimates of soy and wheat allergy between the age groups. Allergy to most foods, except soy and peanut, appeared to be more common in Northern Europe. In summary, the lifetime self-reported prevalence of allergy to common foods in Europe ranged from 0.1 to 6.0%. The heterogeneity between studies was high, and participation rates varied across studies reaching as low as <20% in some studies. Standardizing the methods of assessment of food allergies and initiating strategies to increase participation will advance this evidence base.

Concepts: Systematic review, Milk, Allergy, Food, Meta-analysis, Food allergy, Wheat allergy, Shellfish


A single-step lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) was developed and validated to detect okadaic acid (OA) and dinophysis toxins (DTX), which cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP). The performance characteristics of the test were investigated, in comparison to reference methods (LC-MS/MS and/or bioassay), using both spiked and naturally contaminated shellfish. A portable reader was used to generate a qualitative result, indicating the absence/presence of OA-group toxins, at concentrations relevant to the maximum permitted level (MPL). Sample homogenates could be screened in 20 min (including extraction and assay time) for the presence of free toxins (OA, DTX1, DTX2). DTX3 detection could be included with the addition of a hydrolysis procedure. No matrix effects were observed from the species evaluated (mussels, scallops, oysters, clams). Results from naturally contaminated samples (n=72) indicated no false compliant results and no false non-compliant results at <50% MPL. Thus the development of a new low cost but highly effective tool to monitor for a range of important phycotoxins has been demonstrated.

Concepts: Seafood, Bivalvia, Mussel, Shellfish, Clam, Scallop, Edible molluscs, Diarrheal shellfish poisoning


A number of food allergies (e.g. fish, shellfish, nuts) are lifelong, without any disease-transforming therapies and unclear in their underlying immunology. Clinical manifestations of food allergy are largely mediated by IgE. Although persistent IgE titres have conventionally been attributed to long-lived IgE(+) plasma cells (PCs), this has not been directly and comprehensively tested.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Asthma, Immunology, Allergy, Mast cell, Food allergy, Shellfish


The neurotoxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) produced naturally by cyanobacteria, diatoms and dinoflagellates can be transferred and accumulated up the food chain, and may be a risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases. This study provides the first systematic screening of BMAA exposure of a large population through the consumption of seafood sold in metropolitan markets. BMAA was distinguished from known isomers by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry after acidic hydrolysis and derivatization. Using deuterium-labeled internal standard, BMAA was quantified as 0.01-0.90 μg/g wet weight of tissues in blue mussel, oyster, shrimp, plaice, char and herring, but was undetectable (<0.01 μg/g) in other samples (salmon, cod, perch and crayfish). Provided that the content of BMAA detected is relevant for intake calculations, the data presented may be used for a first estimation of BMAA exposure through seafood from Swedish markets, and to refine the design of future toxicological experiments and assessments.

Concepts: Protein, Mass spectrometry, Fish, Analytical chemistry, Cod, Seafood, Tandem mass spectrometry, Shellfish