For the first time, crabs from the whole of the coast of Norway have been analysed for environmental contaminants including heavy metals. The results show that there are high concentrations of cadmium in edible crabs between Bodø and Lofoten, while all the samples taken south of Bodø were below the maximum level set by EU and Norway.

On behalf of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, NIFES analysed samples of crabs from 47 sites along the coast of Norway, from Hvaler in the south-east to Bø i Vesterålen in the north. Both claw-meat and brown meat from 475 crabs were analysed.

 The results show that the concentrations of cadmium were particularly high in the Salten region, compared to the rest of the country, and were above European Union and Norwegian upper limits for cadmium in claw-meat for human consumption. North of Saltfjorden, only at two sites did the cadmium content not exceed the permitted limit. The rise appeared suddenly around Salten, and all the samples from south of Bodø were within permitted limits.

Read the report.

Høyt innhold av kadmium i taskekrabbe i Saltenområdet.

Confirms previous findings

In 2010, high concentrations off cadmium were found in crabs caught in Salten in the County of Nordland, and this was the background to this year’s survey. On the basis of the 2010 results, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has issued a food advisory notice for the area concerned.

“This confirms that there are high cadmium concentrations in crabs from this area,” says NIFES senior scientist Kåre Julshamn.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has now extended its advice not to eat edible crabs caught for personal consumption to the area of Salten and further north.

Crab claw-meat and brown meat were analysed for heavy metals including cadmium, lead and mercury, as well as other undesirable substances. None of the samples contained levels of lead or mercury above the maximum levels . Concentrations of other undesirable substances were low, with the exception of a few occurrences of sum dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in brown meat. The European Union and Norway have not set maximum level for crab brown meat, but the Norwegian Food Safety Authority advises women of child-bearing age and children to avoid such meat.

Other species in same area to be investigated

The survey is part of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s monitoring programme: “Undesirable substances in wild fish, particularly in coastal waters”. This is the first time that levels of environmental contaminants including heavy metals in crabs from along the whole of the Norwegian coast have been determined .

Cadmium is a heavy metal that accumulates in the bodies of fish and shellfish, marine mammals and human beings, and is undesirable in food products. The element also occurs naturally in seawater, and shellfish take up more of it than fish do.

In view of the 2011 results, NIFES and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority will continue to map cadmium concentrations in fish species in the Bodø area.


Contact:  Kåre Julshamn

Phone: +47 994 87 701


Filer til nedlasting • Årsrapport fremmedstoffer i villfisk 2011 – krabbe clean -12-09-03-amrev (2).pdf 3,0 mb

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