Exposure assessment of methylmercury in samples of the BfR MEAL Study
The BfR MEAL Study is the first German total diet study and will establish a representative and comprehensive database for dietary exposure assessment in Germany. The present study reports first results of the BfR MEAL Study regarding methylmercury in fish, seafood and mushrooms. In total, 34 MEAL foods were purchased nationally or regionally according to a defined sampling plan, prepared in a representative way for German households, pooled into 49 samples, homogenized and subjected to ICP-MS analysis. Dogfish, tuna, ocean perch, halibut and eel were the fish species with highest MeHg concentrations, while levels in mushrooms and mushroom products had markedly lower MeHg levels. Exposure was estimated by matching the present results with consumption data at appropriate levels of food group aggregation. MeHg exposure for adult high consumers (P 95) exceeded the tolerable weekly intake recommended by the European Food Safety Authority in two age groups (14-17 and 18-24 years). In children, no age group exceeded the recommended tolerable weekly intake. Regional samples differed only slightly in MeHg levels. The differences in exposure found in four regions of Germany were influenced by consumption habits rather than MeHg level in the investigated food.