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Dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic in the Norwegian population
Dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic in the Norwegian population
Photo: iStockphoto
Norwegian adults do not have specific eating patterns leading to a different dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic than other European adult population. That is the outcome of an assessment from the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM).

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) requested a statement from the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) on the dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic in the Norwegian population.

 

VKM was asked to comment on the following:

 

 

  1. Why the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessment from 2009 found that the Norwegian population had higher dietary exposure to total arsenic than other European populations
  2. Whether the Norwegian population or special groups of the population have food consumption patterns which could lead to a different dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic than what is reported for the European population
  3. Whether the consumption of rice and rice products, such as rice cakes, and Hijiki seaweed could pose additional health risks for children and adults

Dietary total arsenic exposure in Norway

The dietary exposure to total arsenic for the Norwegian population, was estimated by EFSA in 2009. The Norwegian exposure levels were the highest among the European populations. A high exposure to total arsenc for Norwegian adults was also estimated in the Norwegian Fish and Game study (Birgisdottir et al., 2013). Fish and seafood is the main contributor to the dietary exposure to total arsenic, and a high consumption of fish and seafood leads to a high dietary exposure to total arsenic.

Dietary inorganic arsenic exposure in Europe and Norway

There was little variation in the estimated dietary exposures to inorganic arsenic for the European population (EFSA 2014).

The dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic has earlier been estimated in the Norwegian adult population based on a smaler study including participants with high consumption of fish and other seafood and game meat, and participants representing the general population (Birgisdottir et al., 2013).

The estimates for inorganic arsenic exposure were within the ranges reported by EFSA, suggesting that Norwegian adults do not have specific eating patterns leading to a different dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic than other European adult populations.

Rice products and Hijiki seaweed

According to EFSA (2014), rice and rice products are not an important source of inorganic arsenic for infants and toddlers. However, the dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic is higher than in adults because of their higher food consumption relative to body weight.

The Norwegian infants and toddlers with a high consumption of rice and rice products, such as rice cakes, will have a higher exposure to inorganic arsenic than other infants and toddlers, resulting in an added health risk the VKM concludes.

Hijiki seaweed contains high levels of inorganic arsenic. Any consumption of Hijiki seaweed will lead to an additional exposure of inorganic arsenic, resulting in added health risk, the VKM concludes.

The VKM Panel on Contaminants was responsible for this risk assessment.

03.05.2016

Risk assessment closed: 03.05.2016

Contact details

Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety
Secretariat
Phone: +47 21 62 28 00
vkm@vkm.no