Cadmium Research

The BCSGA has been actively involved in cadmium research and testing for many years and continues to spearhead studies on this issue.

BC shellfish growers, Environment Canada, Health Canada and the CFIA are steadfast in their monitoring of water quality on a daily basis and harvest prohibitions are put in place whenever toxin levels increase above the safety standard. As one of the heaviest regulated food industries in Canada, the shellfish grown in BC is vigorously tested before going to market and the BCSGA is proud of the safe, nutritious and delicious product their farmers grow in our coastal waters. All BC shellfish farmers strictly adhere to the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) to minimize the risk of consumption of unsafe or unwholesome shellfish. Three departments joined in this initiative:

  • Environment Canada conducts shoreline sanitary and growing water surveys and identifies areas that do not meet sanitary standards.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors shellfish growing areas for marine toxins and is also responsible for registering and inspecting fish and shellfish processing plants.
  • Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO) closes harvest areas and prohibits the harvesting of bivalve shellfish whenever bacteriological or toxin levels exceed the established guidelines.

Most foods, including shellfish, have trace amounts of contaminants and heavy metals. For most species the levels of these substances are well below established standards. Consumers should be aware of elevated levels of cadmium found in British Columbia (B.C.) oysters and whole scallops. Cadmium is a naturally occurring element found in the environment. Chronic exposure to elevated levels of cadmium over an extended period of time may result in damage to the kidneys, although there is no scientific evidence linking health effects to naturally occurring cadmium found in shellfish. The BCSGA would like to remind consumers that cadmium is a naturally occuring element found in everything from the air we breathe to the vegetables we consume and though this issue has and will continue to be heavily researched, there has never been any direct link to adverse health effects from consuming BC shellfish.

The BCSGA recommends consumers:

  • purchase only from a reputable retail store or restaurant. Bivalve shellfish must be processed through a federally approved and inspected shellfish processing plant
  • to minimize the risk, keep shellfish cold at all times before consumption
  • to follow consumption guidelines for oysters recommended by Health Canada

For more information on cadmium issues please peruse some of the documents below.

Role of dissolved and particulate cadmium in the accumulation of cadmium in cultured oysters (Crassostrea gigas), Priyanka Lekhia,⁎, D. Cassisb, C.M. Pearcec, N. Ebelld, M.T. Maldonadob, K.J. Oriansa,b, 2007