Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Seafood
Most food (including seafood) contains low levels of POPs. Animals and humans are exposed to these chemicals predominantly via food consumption. Most times, the levels of POPs found in food are, however, of little concern to the health of animals and humans. The benefits of consuming foods such as seafood generally outweigh any risks associated with such low level (background) contamination.
In Australia, the Food Standards Australia & New Zealand (FSANZ, 2004) conducted a risk assessment for the general population in relation to dioxin contamination in retail food (including seafood of unknown origin). The study concluded that the dioxin levels in retail food products are very low and that the risk to the Australian population associated with dioxin exposure through these food groups is very low.
Many pollutants, in particular chemicals that are persistent (i.e. remain in the environment for long periods of time), such as dioxins, ultimately get transported into the marine system where they can accumulate over years and decades.
To date, there is very little information on the type and levels of contaminants that enter the marine environment in Australia. There is also little information regarding contaminants in marine organisms, many of which represent food sources and often a major part of the diet of many coastal Australians.
Therefore, a research study was initiated to investigate the type and levels of contaminants in common seafood sourced from local waters and the potential risks associated to coastal communities. In order to reduce the extent of such an investigation, the study was focused on Moreton Bay in Queensland with an associated risk assessment relating to the consumption of this seafood by the North Stradbroke Island community.