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Food Safety Focus (36th Issue, July 2009) – Food Incident Highlight

Methylmercury in Shark Fins

In June, excessive methylmercury was detected in a batch of frozen shark fins imported to Taiwan from Indonesia .

Methylmercury is the organic form of mercury naturally accumulates in fish through the food chain, often at higher levels in large predatory fish. It has the potential to affect the nervous system particularly in the developing foetus. In the past three years, mercury levels in all shark fin samples tested by the Centre for Food Safety were satisfactory, while excessive levels had been found in some predatory fish such as alfonsino, black cod, ling, swordfish and orange roughy.

To get the most benefits from eating fish, the public are advised to consume a variety of fish in moderation and avoid overindulgence. Pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children are more sensitive to the adverse effects, thus avoiding consumption of the types of fish which may contain high levels of mercury would reduce the risk.