In this project we study the content and fate of iodine and arsenic throughout value chains from cultivation to human food consumption, with the aim to facilitate management of food safety of this important resource.

  • Aquacultural production of kelp (a group of brown macroalgae) is on the rise worldwide and has great potential as both food and feed. Kelps contain several essential micronutrients but can also contain undesirably high levels of certain elements.

  • We are focusing on the species Saccharina latissima (sugar kelp) and Alaria esculenta (winged kelp), which are cultivated in Norway, and S. japonica, which is cultivated in China. We will characterize environmental and genetic variation in content of iodine and arsenic, reveal relationships between iodine content and stress tolerance in kelp, study how iodine content in kelp is a function of irradiance and temperature, including genes involved in this. We will study how processing affects content of iodine and arsenic in kelp-based food and feed, and how iodine and arsenic from kelp is taken up, transformed and accumulating in humans and in farmed animals. We will determine availability, uptake and allocation in cereals fertilized with kelp processing residues and manure from kelp-fed animals. We will compare critical levels and food regulations of macroalgal iodine and arsenic in China and Europe and relate our results to critical levels for these elements. Communication of results to food safety authorities, kelp, food and feed industry and other stakeholders is an important part of the project.

  • The project is a collaboration between Norwegian and Chinese partners: Faculty of Biosciences and Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management at NMBU, Sintef Ocean AS, Institute of Marine Research, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Yellow Sea Fisheries Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences.


External participants

Sintef Ocean AS: Silje Forbord, Ole Jacob Broch, Jorunn Skjermo

Institute of Marine Research: Inger Aakre