Trace metal levels in the edible tissues of sea cucumbers (Holothuria tubulosa and Holothuria polii) from Sardinia (Western Mediterranean)

Ital J Food Saf. 2021 Sep 29;10(3):9576. doi: 10.4081/ijfs.2021.9576.


Sea cucumbers represent an important part of the diet in Asian and Pacific regions and are also used in traditional medicine. These habits have led to the overexploitation of local sea cucumber populations in these areas, driving the pursuit of new stock regions, such as Mediterranean areas. In Italy, contrarily to that observed for other Mediterranean countries, the exploitation of sea cucumber stocks is not extensive, which opens a new market opportunity. Thus, from a food safety perspective, this work aims at reporting the first assessment of trace metal concentrations (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb) in the edible tissues of Holothuria polii and Holoturia tubulosa collected in Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Metal concentrations found in H. polii were generally higher than in H. tubulosa. However, in both species, they were lower than those reported for other areas of the Western Mediterranean. Cd, Hg, and Pb were below the limits established for seafood in Europe. As concentrations were in the range of those measured in other commercial seafood species in the Mediterranean. Thus, these species may be harvested and traded to fulfil the demands of local and international markets.

Keywords: Sea cucumber; Seafood; Trace metals; Western Mediterranean.

Grants and funding

Funding: None.