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Food Safety Focus ( 103rd Issue, February 2015 ) – Food Incident Highlight

Excessive Cadmium in Oysters

In December 2014, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) detected excessive cadmium in two different batches of raw oyster samples harvested from Walvis Bay Harbour in Namibia. The CFS has suspended the import of oysters from that Harbour, notified the Namibian authorities, and alerted the trade and the public of the incidents.

Due to their specific growing nature, oysters can be easily contaminated by chemicals (e.g. cadmium), pathogens (e.g. norovirus) and other hazards. Thorough cooking can destroy norovirus but cannot remove cadmium accumulated in the oysters. Although acute toxicity of cadmium due to dietary exposure is very unlikely, prolonged excessive intake of cadmium may have adverse effects on the kidneys and bones.

The CFS advises the public to maintain a balanced diet and be aware of the inherent risks associated with oyster consumption. The trade is advised to source oysters that are grown in and harvested from areas of clean water.