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FDA conducted this limited investigation as a preliminary step to determine whether a more targeted or larger-scale seafood investigation should be carried out. FDA tested 81 samples of clams, COD, crab, whiting, salmon, shrimp, tuna and tilapia, most of which were imported into the United States. Using the best available science and technology, FDA has separately evaluated the detected PFAS with toxicological reference value. FDA determined that the estimated exposure of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in canned clam samples from China may be a health problem. For the two canned clam samples with the highest PFOA content, consumers who consume more than about 10 ounces of clams per month may have potential health problems, except for young children, who should limit their consumption to 2 ounces per month.
Studies have shown that exposure to PFOA is associated with several serious health consequences, including developmental effects, changes in liver function, weakened immune response, and an increase in some types of cancer. The levels of other types of PFAS assessed in clams, as well as PFAS levels assessed in all other seafood samples, are unlikely to be health problems. FDA is committed to determining the content of PFOA in imported canned clams and PFAS in clams, and taking measures to ensure the continuous safety of food supply in the United States.
After learning the test results of FDA’s products, the two dealers of the two samples with the highest PFOA content took initiatives to protect consumers. One of the companies announced a voluntary recall of all products that meet the universal product code (UPC), which can be found under the barcode on the back of the package. In addition, the second company also promised to voluntarily recall their canned clam products, which have been included in FDA testing.
FDA is actively working with all canned clam distributors that sample products to better understand the potential sources of pollution, which may help these companies take actions to reduce consumers’ exposure to PFOA from their products, for example, by purchasing products to reduce the content of PFOA in canned clams. FDA will also test imported clams and take appropriate action. In addition, the agency plans to conduct more extensive tests on imported and domestically harvested canned and fresh clams to better understand PFAS levels and determine the best way to protect public health.