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Food Safety Focus (99th Issue, October 2014) – Food Incident Highlight

Excessive Mercury in Swordfish Products

Subsequent to the notification received from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission last month that a kind of skin-on frozen swordfish exported from Vietnam was found to contain excessive mercury, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) enhanced its surveillance on swordfish and found three kinds of swordfish loin and steak imported from Vietnam contained mercury at levels exceeding the legal limit. The CFS has informed the importer concerned and alerted the trade and the public of the incident.

Mercury is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in the environment. It can be released into the air and water as a result of volcanic eruptions and mining activities. Mercury collected in streams, lakes, and oceans can be turned into methylmercury which is readily taken up by living organisms in the water and accumulated up the food chain. Thus large predatory fish may contain higher level of the chemical.

Since excessive intake of methylmercury can affect the developing nervous system, pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children should avoid consumption of large predatory fish. Members of the public are advised to maintain a balanced and varied diet with moderate consumption of a variety of fish.

Swordfish – a kind of predatory fish
Swordfish – a kind of predatory fish