French authorities issue spirulina supplement contamination warning

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock / egal
© iStock / egal
Authorities in France are urging consumers to only trust spirulina supplements from manufacturers where there is a trusted and controlled supply chain, after several reports of contamination in supplements containing the microalgae.

The National Agency for Sanitary, Food, Environmental and Occupational Safety (ANSES) in France said several reports of adverse events that are likely to have been as a result of the consumption of food supplements containing Spirulina have been reported as part of its ongoing national system of vigilance.

ANSES said the reports have led it to evaluate the risks associated with spirulina supplements in greater detail – leading to a notice stressing that supplements containing spirulina may be contaminated.

“In view of the risk of contamination of spirulina by cyanotoxins, bacteria or metallic trace elements, the Agency recommends that consumers of spirulina-containing food supplements give priority to the supply chains best controlled by the public authorities: compliance French regulations, traceability, identification of the manufacturer,”​ said ANSES.

In view of the risk, the agency also took aim at manufacturers, stressing the importance of quality control in production waters and production methods.

“Apart from the risk of contamination, spirulina does not seem to pose a health risk at low doses,”​ said ANSES – noting that the available science shows no health risk at doses up to ‘several grams per day’ in adults.

However, it added that the numbers of epidemiological studies available are too small to reveal rare effects such as individual hypersensitivity.

As such it advises against the consumption of food supplements containing spirulina for people with phenylketonuria.

Furthermore, ANSES said work on levels of vitamins and nutrients in spirulina show that it is not a reliable source of vitamin B12 for vegan populations – since it is present mainly as an inactive analogue in the microalgae. 

“In addition, the consumption of 5g / day of spirulina (maximum amount recommended by certain food supplements) provides 7 to 8.5 mg of beta-carotene while the limit of daily intake of beta-carotene by dietary supplements has been estimated at 7 mg / d in addition to spontaneous intakes,” said ​ANSES.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy

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