Press release FASFC: Further investigation into PFAS in North Sea shrimp after anomalous sample results

This press release was distributed on 31 January 2024 at the initiative of the Federal Agency for Food Safety.

The FASFC monitored several fishery products from the North Sea in 2023 for the presence of PFAS. Due to the exceeding of the standard in one sample, additional monitoring and research is now in progress. To this end, the FASFC is working with the specialized marine department of ILVO, Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO).

All but one of the marine fishery products examined showed compliant results below European standards during last year's controls. In North Sea shrimp, 1 of 10 samples showed PFAS levels above the European standard. The 10 samples of shrimp analyzed were caught at different locations in the North Sea. In the one sample that exceeded the European standards, 8.2 µg/kg was found for the sum of 4 PFAS, while the EU standard is 5 µg/kg. The EU standard was also exceeded for PFOS.

Given that there was only 1 sample with an exceedance of the standard, any measures or consumption recommendations are premature. The FASFC and ILVO have, however, set up a continued monitoring and research plan regarding the possible presence of PFAS in North Sea shrimp.

Joris Moonens, Department of Health spokesperson "PFAS do not pose an acute health risk. However, exposure and intake must be limited to avoid accumulation of PFAS in the body, with possible long-term health effects. The FASFC informed us of these anomalous sample results. However, one abnormal sample is no reason for health concerns to already give advice about, for example, eating less shrimp or not fishing in certain areas. Further research is appropriate, however."
The FASFC will continue monitoring gray North Sea shrimp in 2024 through its multi-year monitoring plan. ILVO will examine more samples from different locations in the North Sea to determine whether there is a higher risk of contamination of North Sea shrimp in certain locations or zones than elsewhere. Results from continued monitoring are not yet available.

Press contact:
Hélène Bonte
Tel.: +32 478 50 59 31
Spokesperson for Care Department
Joris Moonens
Tel.: +32 475 82 93 41

See also