#childsafety | Spanish authorities issue advice on safe Kombu algae consumption

Created as a stopgap to delayed European Commission recommendations, AESAN sets out specific risk management measures that aims to reduce complications a high iodine intake may have on vulnerable populations.

“People with thyroid dysfunction or who take medications that contain iodine should avoid the consumption of foods that contain algae, especially of the Kombu species (Laminaria japonica, Saccharina japonica), due to the high levels of iodine that they contribute in their composition,” ​the Agency states.

“In the absence of sufficient data to measure the risk in the child population due to the iodine content of algae, it is recommended to avoid its consumption by children, as well as by pregnant or lactating women.”

Kombu algae

The advice focuses on Kombu algae (Laminaria japonica​ or Saccharina japonica​), a brownish algae with a laminar appearance that is cultivated in Japan.

It is the fundamental ingredient used to make dashi (the basic broth of Japanese cuisine, which is used as a base for soups such as miso).

While a certain excess is generally well tolerated, both EFSA and AESAN state that a continuously high iodine intake in the diet may be related to an increase in thyroid pathologies

This includes hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goitre and /or thyroid autoimmunity in people with underlying thyroid disease or in those previously exposed to iodine deficiency.

Complications arising from a high iodine dietary intake has long been established by European food regulatory agencies with EFSA’s​​ 2019 assessment of algae, concluded that its intake could easily exceed the maximum safety threshold (upper level) for all species of brown algae.

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