Public Health Risks Associated with Tetrodotoxin and Its Analogues in European Waters: Recent Advances after The EFSA Scientific Opinion.

Affiliation

Ministry of Rural Development and Food, Directorate General of Rural Development, Directorate of Research, Innovation and Education, Hapsa & Karatasou 1, 54626 Thessaloniki, Greece. [Email]

Abstract

Tetrodotoxin (TTX) and its analogues are naturally occurring toxins responsible worldwide for human intoxication cases and fatalities, mainly associated with pufferfish consumption. In the last decade, TTXs were detected in marine bivalves and gastropods from European waters. As TTXs are not regulated or monitored at EU level, their unexpected occurrence in shellfish raised concerns as a food safety hazard and revealed the necessity of a thorough assessment on the public health risks associated with their presence. For this reason, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was requested by the European Commission to provide a scientific opinion, finally adopted in March 2017, according to which a provisional concentration below 44 μg TTX equivalents/kg shellfish meat, based on a large portion size of 400 g, was considered not to result in adverse effects in humans. The EFSA expert panel, however, recognized a number of shortcomings and uncertainties related to the unavailability of sufficient scientific data and provided relevant recommendations for future research to overcome these data gaps identified in order to further refine the risk assessment on TTXs. The present review aims to summarize the knowledge obtained towards addressing these recommendations in the two years following publication of the EFSA opinion, at the same time highlighting the points requiring further investigation.

Keywords

European waters,analysis methods,bivalve molluscs,exposure assessment.,gastropods,health risks,occurrence data,tetrodotoxin,tetrodotoxin analogues,toxicity evaluation,

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