Marine biotoxins and associated outbreaks following seafood consumption: Prevention and surveillance in the 21st century

Jonathan Nicolas, Ron L.A.P. Hoogenboom, Peter J.M. Hendriksen, Marcia Bodero Baeza, Toine F.H. Bovee, Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens, Arjen Gerssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Marine biotoxins are mostly produced by phytoplankton. Proliferation of algae producing marine biotoxins, also known as harmful algal bloom (HAB), occurs worldwide. Such event depends on environmental conditions, including temperature, water pH/salinity, current patterns and anthropogenic nutrient input. Marine biotoxins can accumulate in seafood products and as such present a threat to consumers.This paper reviews and compiles up-to-date literature on reported human intoxications following exposure to marine biotoxins through seafood consumption. The review includes a discussion about prevention of such outbreaks and surveillance programs to identify possible limitations and approaches for limiting the impact of HABs on human health. It is concluded that marine biotoxins represent a threat to human health as thousands of poisonings following consumption of seafood contaminated with marine biotoxins were reported in the 21st century, emphasizing the need for carrying on/developing surveillance programs to detect the presence of HABs, and for development, validation and implementation of sensitive high-throughput methods for detecting these biotoxins in seafood to protect consumers. Regarding the possible presence of unknown toxins and general lack of standards for many known toxins, in vitro effect-based bioassays may play an important role in the monitoring for biotoxins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
JournalGlobal Food Security
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Food safety
  • Human health
  • Marine biotoxins
  • Outbreaks
  • Seafood monitoring


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