REVIEW ON SOME RISKS TO HUMAN HEALTH RELATING TO THE CONSUMPTION OF MUSSELS OBTAINED IN THE WATERS BEFORE THE BULGARIAN BLACK SEA COAST
Keywords:mussel consumption, risks, risk assessment
Mussels are a favourite delicacy for many people, and at the same time they are a nutritious food. They contain high-quality animal protein, which is similar to that of milk and eggs, as well as other essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. Mussels are low in saturated fat and are an important source of some essential trace elements such as selenium, iron and zinc. At the same time, mussels can be carriers of foodborne diseases and poisonings (intoxications) when they are contaminated with microbial pathogens and marine biotoxines.
The unique biology of mussels (filter nutrition and ability to accumulate ingested substances), as well as the practice of consuming molluscs raw or after light heat treatment, contribute to human vulnerability to foodborne illness and intoxication. In the filter diet, mussels ingest seaweed and the pathogens and toxin-producing microalgae it contains, accumulating it in their body. Contaminated mussels create a potential epidemic situation, as a result of which they play a significant role in the occurrence of bacterial and viral foodborne infections and cause poisoning by marine biotoxines. Ensuring good seawater quality in mussel production areas is the basis for reducing the risk of diseases arising from the consumption of contaminated mussels. The sources of most pathogens are seawater contaminated with animal or human faeces. Marine biotoxines are highly toxic substances and are synthesized by some species of microscopic algae (phytoplankton). Ensuring good seawater quality in mussel production areas is the basis for reducing the risk of diseases caused by the consumption of contaminated mussels.
The bivalve molluscs, incl. and mussels are a high-risk food, as they can easily live in polluted waters and accumulate through their filter food available pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria, viruses and parasites), marine biotoxines and other chemical pollutants (heavy metals, dioxins, furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Some of these hazards occur naturally in the marine ecosystem and are therefore unavoidable pollutants to mussels. Other hazards occur in mussels as a result of pollution of seawater by human activities (anthropogenic pressure) and natural phenomena.
The purpose of this review is to provide information on the dangers to human health that can be transmitted to humans from the consumption of mussels, their adverse effects on consumer health, and the prevention of these diseases by reducing the risk of contamination of live mussels, with pathogenic microorganisms and marine biotoxines.
In conclusion, we can draw the following conclusions:
1. During the initial selection of production areas, a sanitary survey shall be carried out by the competent authorities to determine the type and number of sources of pollution as well as the manner of pollution of seawater. These studies should be periodically updated on the basis of the results of water monitoring in production areas.
2. Mussels coming from areas which, on the basis of thorough examination and systematic monitoring, have been found free from pathogenic micro-organisms and which meet health standards for biotoxines, microbiological criteria and the maximum permissible levels for chemical pollutants laid down in EU legislation.