Regulations for marine microalgal toxins: Towards harmonization of methods and limits
Toxins produced by marine microalgae are harmful to humans and a serious threat to aquaculture and fisheries. Most seafood-producing countries have established monitoring programmes and regulations to protect public health from the risk of toxin exposure. However, there are disparities in current regulations regarding methods and applied limits for toxin control. Inconsistencies are especially evident for Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins. Epidemiological and toxicological data are necessary to assess risk, and to establish safe limits for the different groups of toxins. The scarcity or absence of pure toxins and certified reference materials has hampered toxicological studies and the development of suitable analytical methods. The World Trade Organization and the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade encourage the harmonization of regulations on food safety requirements. The current policy on trade liberalization of seafood is presented, together with a review of the regulations for marine microalgal toxins. Activities on harmonization of methods and limits, particularly to DSP toxins, are discussed.