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Risk assessment of dietary cadmium exposure in the Norwegian population
Risk assessment of dietary cadmium exposure in the Norwegian population
Photo: iStockphoto
The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) has at the request of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority conducted a risk assessment dietary cadmium exposure in the Norwegian population.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority intends to use the risk assessment as a basis for the Norwegian contribution to the ongoing legislative work in the EU and to consider the necessity to adjust the existing national dietary advices or to issue new ones.

VKM concludes that it can be expected that cadmium exposure among adults in Norway is within the range previously identified by EFSA, and close to the exposure estimated for Sweden.

VKM is of the opinion that long-term cadmium exposure above the TWI as result from the regular diet in adults is unlikely in Norway, but that exceedance might occur from the additional consumption of food items with high cadmium concentrations, in particular brown meat of crabs.

In dietary exposure estimates from EFSA, toddlers and other children have mean cadmium exposure exceeding the TWI, due to their higher food consumption relative to the body weight. Based on this, VKM expects that the mean dietary cadmium exposure in toddlers and children may exceed the TWI also in Norway.

Risk from cadmium intake from particular foods in Norway

Based on the mean concentrations of cadmium, VKM identified fish liver, bivalve molluscs and offal in addition to brown crab meat as particular food items that potentially can lead to added cadmium exposure in Norway.

Scenarios for cadmium exposure from crab or fish liver consumption

Scenarios of cadmium exposure from crab consumption indicate that adults can eat approximately one whole crab or two filled crab shells per month in addition to regular food without exceeding the TWI. Averaged over a year, this corresponds to 13.5 whole crabs or approximately 25 filled crab shells. If adults only eat white crab meat, they can consume white meat from approximately nine crabs per week, which corresponds to white meat from approximately 468 crabs per year.

Adolescents can eat as little as approximately 0.3 whole crabs or 0.6 filled crab shells per month in addition to regular food without exceeding the TWI. Averaged over a year, this corresponds to 3-4 whole crabs per year or approximately 7 filled crab shells. If adolescents only eat white crab meat, they can consume white meat from about 2.5 crabs per week, which corresponds to white meat from approximately 129 crabs per year.

Since a higher crab consumption than the acceptable range calculated in the scenarios has been reported in Norwegian dietary surveys, VKM concludes that high consumers of crab brown meat are at high risk of exceeding the TWI. VKM concludes that cadmium exposure from white crab meat is not of concern in Norway.

The available Norwegian data on the consumption of fish liver indicate that such high fish liver consumption over a longer period (months and years) is unlikely, and consequently VKM concludes that cadmium exposure from fish liver consumption is not of concern in adults and adolescents.

Cadmium exposure from particular food items was not addressed for toddlers and children

Exposure scenarios were not calculated for children because there are no Norwegian data on the consumption of crabs or fish liver for toddlers and children. It was, however, anticipated by VKM based on common knowledge regarding children’s food habits that crab brown meat and fish liver are rarely consumed by children. However, if consumed by children, crabs and fish liver would contribute more to the exposure in children than in adolescents and adults because of the low body weight in children and their high energy requirement relative to the body weight. Furthermore, they already have a mean cadmium exposure above the TWI from the regular diet as estimated by EFSA.

The risk assessment was published 15.06.2015 

Risk assessment closed: 15.06.2015

Contact details

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