EU Science Hub

New shellfish certified reference material to enhance food safety

Dec 26 2012

A new certified reference material (CRM) extracted from mussels establishes certified values for cadmium, mercury lead and other 10 elements, being therefore a useful tool for laboratories to develop reliable testing methods and to control the quality of measurements for food safety.

Mussels are one of the most popular shellfish among European consumers and maximum levels for contaminants in this species are set by EC regulation 466/2001. The CRM was produced from wild mussels grown in European waters, with levels of contaminants below regulatory limits. It can also be used for the validation of measurements of trace elements in shellfish other than mussels (mytulis edulis) due to the similarity of the behaviour of tissue from different shellfish species during the analytical process.

In addition, because of their nature as filter-feeders, mussels are often sampled to provide an indication of pollution in the marine environment. Studies on the marine environment may rely on measurements made by different laboratories over several years. Quality control, which can be aided by the use of CRMs, is essential in such measurement campaigns in order to ensure that results are comparable in time and place.

The new CRM is called "ERM-CE278k Mussel Tissue" and provides values for a greater number of elements, allowing therefore a wider variety of laboratory uses. The certified values are based on an inter comparison of expert laboratories of demonstrated competence.