Home » FSS ACT » FSSAI Regulates Standards for Limits of Biotoxins in Fish and Fish Products

FSSAI Regulates Standards for Limits of Biotoxins in Fish and Fish Products

In its notification dated 4 January, 2016 FSSAI has made amendments to Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulation, 2011. The proposed amendments to the standards were made public on 7July 2015, after which FSSAI began to accept suggestions, comments and objections.  The standards have now been regulated and will come into effect after their final notification in the Official Gazette. The amendments have been made after due consideration of the comments and suggestions offered to FSSAI by concerned parties. Once notified, these regulations will be called the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, toxins and Residues) Amendment Regulations, 2016.

The amendments have been made in the section dealing with ‘crop contaminants and naturally occurring toxic substances’ in the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011.  Since earlier there were no standards for maximum limits of biotoxins in fish and fishery products they have now been added to the standards under “Naturally Occurring Toxic Substances” and these relate to Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds in Fish and Fishery Products

Table below shows the maximum limits of contaminants in fish and fishery products

Sl.No.        Name of the contaminants    Article of food Limit
 (1)                      (2)                (3)   (4)
1. Polychlorinated biphenyls (Sum of PCB28, PCB52, PCB101, PCB138, PCB153 and PCB180) Inland and Migratory Fish 2.0 ppm
2. Polychlorinated biphenyls (Sum of PCB28, PCB52, PCB101, PCB138, PCB153 and PCB180) Marine Fish, Crustaceans andmolluscs 0.5 ppm
3. Benzo(a)pyrene Smoked Fishery Products 5.0 ppb.”

Besides defining the limits of biotoxins in fish and fish products the maximum limits of biotoxinresidues in fish and fishery products have also been regularised.

The table below shows the maximum limits of biotoxin residues in fish and fishery products 

Sl. No.     Name of the contaminants Article of food    Limit (μg/kg)
 (1)                    (2)           (3)              (4)
1. Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) Bivalve Molluscs 80 μg/100g (SaxitoxinEquivalent)
2. Amnesic Shellfish Poison (ASP) Bivalve Molluscs 20 μg/g (Domoic acidequivalent)
3. Diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) Bivalve Molluscs 160 μg of Okadaic acidequivalent/Kg
4. Azaspiracid poison (AZP) Bivalve Molluscs 160 μg of azaspiracidequivalent/K
5. Brevetoxin (BTX) Bivalve Molluscs 200 mouse units orequivalent/Kg.”

About Biotoxin poisoning

Biotoxins in fish are naturally occurring but they can accumulate in fish and shellfish. If these tainted fish are consumed then they can cause severe poisoning and in some cases even death. 

Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) is an illness caused by the biotoxin known as domoic acid which is a naturally-occurring amino acid found in certain algae. Domoic acid can accumulate in bivalve molluscan shellfish such as clams, mussels, scallops and oysters. Most cases of illness from ASP are linked to the consumption of bivalve molluscan shellfish like clams, mussels, oysters and scallops that contain high levels of domoic acid. The symptoms of ASP can be any of these like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, muscle weakness, disorientation and memory loss. Symptoms usually occur 30 minutes to 6 hours after consumption.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) PSP is caused by eating bivalve shellfish like oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and cockles and crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters that contain high levels of marine biotoxins. These have accumulated in the tissues of the bivalve shellfish because they eat microscopic plants that can produce toxins. The toxins that cause PSP do not get destroyed even by cooking.  The symptoms can occur within minutes to 10 hours of eating these marine foods. The symptoms are tingling sensation or numbness around the lips which spreads to face and neck. There can also be a prickly sensation in the fingertips and toes, headache and dizziness, weakness, lack of coordination in the limbs, rapid pulse and respiratory difficulty besides nausea and vomiting.  The problem is that there is known cure for PSP.

Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) DSP is a gastrointestinal illness caused by the consumption of contaminated shellfish that have fed on organisms like marine planktom which produce okadaic acid and 9 other derivate. Symptoms are the same as diarrhoea which can occur within 30 minutes of consumption to 12 hours.

Ciguatera Poisoning is caused by an accumulation of marine biotoxins in fish found mainly in tropical waters. The large carnivorous fish accumulate more ciguatera toxins and may pose a greater risk. Ciguatera toxin is usually found in the liver, head, gonads and viscera of the fish though other parts may also accumulate this toxin. Symptoms are gastroenteritis, itching of the skin, and central nervous system dysfunction where cold foods or drinks are felt as hot and hot foods or drinks are felt as cold. The symptoms can occur between 1 and 12 hours after consumption and can carry on for months.

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