October 2, 2023

FDA Results on PFAS in Seafood; Canned Clams From China A Concern

FDA results on PFAS in seafood were released yesterday, with the finding that the percentage of seafood samples with detectable PFAS were higher than the general food supply obtained from FDA’s Total Diet Study. Canned clams imported from China were a particular concern.

FDA Results on PFAS in Seafood; Canned Clams From China A Concern

PFAS are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which include perfluorooctanoic acid acid (PFOA). Exposure to that chemical is associated with developmental effects, reduced immune response, changes to liver function, and increases in some types of cancer. Seafood may be at increased risk for PFAS contamination from the environment.

This “limited survey” was conducted as a first step to see if that agency needs to conduct a more targeted or larger study on PFAS ┬áin seafood. Eighty-one samples of clams, cod, pollock, crab, shrimp, salmon, tuna, and tilapia were included in the survey. Most of these items were imported into the United States.

The estimated exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid from samples of canned clams from China were likely a health concern. In fact, the clams distributed by one firm were recalled yesterday. The second firm has committed to a voluntary recall.

For the canned clam samples with the two highest levels of PFOA, there is a health concern for people who eat more than 10 ounces of these clams per month. Young children could develop health problems if they eat more than two ounces of those brands of clams a month.

The FDA is working with canned clam distributors whose products were included in this sampling to understand the sources of contamination. Better product sourcing is one option.

The FDA is going to test imported clams and take action as needed. And the agency is going to test more canned and fresh clams, both domestically harvested and imported, to understand PFAS levels.

Finally, the FDA does not recommend that consumers eliminate seafood from their diet because of concern about PFAS. Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to stay healthy. But if you eat or feed your children canned clams from China, you may want to reduce overall intake until more information is available on PFAS in seafood.

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