SEAFOODTOMORROW researchers give mussels a much-needed detox

SEAFOODTOMORROW researchers have carried out an innovative experiment to remove a harmful contaminant from mussels. The toxin, known as Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxin (PSP), accumulates in shellfish and can cause serious illness and damage to the nervous system when ingested by humans. Removal of these toxins could save shellfish producers thousands of euro each year.

The field work was carried out by the researchers (from IRTA) on the Catalonian coast in March this year. Edible mussels were exposed to a toxic bloom of the phytoplankton Alexandrium minutum, a known producer of the PSP toxin. The objective was to allow high levels of PSP to bioaccumulate in the mussels, giving the researchers great specimens on which to test new detoxifications methods.

The contaminated mussels were processed by the researchers (from ANFACO) using an optimized industrial detoxification protocol for PSP toxins that is currently only approved for cockles (EC Decision 96/77). The team adjusted various parameters of the protocol for use with mussels specifically, such as processing time and temperature. The preliminary results are promising, with researchers hoping that the method will be validated in the near future.

One of the primary objectives of the SEAFOODTOMORROW project is the development of innovative and sustainable seafood processing, with contaminant reduction strategies forming a key component of this. This way, we provide safe, sustainable and delicious seafood for more consumers across Europe, and beyond!