Statement on a request from the commission related to iodine in seaweed by the Scientific Panel on contaminants in the food chain (CONTAM)Question number: EFSA-Q-2006-111
Statement of the scientific panel on contaminants in the food chain on a request from the commission related to iodine in seaweed
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked to provide a scientific opinion at a European level on the risks to human health related to the presence of significant levels of iodine in seaweed. The Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food chain (CONTAM) discussed this request at its 18th plenary meeting and noted that there exists already a scientific opinion at a European level on the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of iodine of the Scientific Committee of Food (SCF) from 2002, which was considered to be sufficiently recent. The UL for iodine applies to all sources of iodine including seaweed, which is also mentioned in the risk characterisation part of the opinion “can result in dangerously excessive iodine intakes”. The opinion clearly describes the hazards associated with high intakes of iodine, both acute, subacute and chronic intakes, and also subpopulations at risk such as pregnant women.
The iodine content of foods differs depending on various factors such as geochemical conditions, and the intake of iodine by individual consumers in human populations generally corresponds to the amount entering the local or national food chain. In some geographical regions iodine intake may be very low and can result in iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). In these regions sudden increased iodine intake can be undesirable, a balanced intake would be, however, favourable to compensate for deficiencies. Within Europe all scenarios ranging from too low to rather high dietary exposure to iodine can occur. The CONTAM Panel is of the opinion that the exposure assessment of seaweed, as a source for significant levels of iodine, and possible recommendations for the consumption of seaweed has to be conducted at the national (or even at the regional) level.
SCIENTIFIC PANEL MEMBERS
Jan Alexander, Guðjón Atli Auðunsson, Diane Benford, Reinhold Carle, Andrew Cockburn, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Eugenia Dogliotti, Alessandro di Domenico, Maria Luisa Fernández-Cruz, Johanna Fink-Gremmels, Peter Fürst, Corrado Galli, Philippe Greandjean, Jadwiga Gzyl, Gerhard Heinemeyer, Niklas Johansson, Antonio Mutti, Josef Schlatter, Rolaf van Leeuwen, Carlos van Peterghem, Philippe Verger.
 Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of Iodine, expressed on 26 September 2002, available at URL http:/ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scf/out146_en.pdf
Last updated: 13/10/2006