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Health-hazards in some Chlorella, Spirulina found in Spain, Italy, China, USA.

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Do microcystins as microalgae contaminants warrant the current public alarm? Stefano Scoglio. Nutritherapy Research Centre, Urbino, Italy

Microcystins in water and in microalgae

Do microcystins as microalgae contaminants warrant the current public alarm? Stefano Scoglio. Nutritherapy Research Centre, Urbino, Italy





Some Klamath algae products tested were above the limit of 1 μg/g of microcystins. Is this alarm and concern about Klamath AFA, as well as other microalgae such as Spirulina or Chlorella, warranted? And more widely, is the danger of microcystins as high as it has been purported to be?

  1. Contamination by Microcystis and microcystins of blue–green algae food supplements (BGAS) on the Italian market and possible risk for the exposed population, Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Dec;50(12):4493-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.09.029. S. Vichi, et al., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23036452

  2. Toxin content and cytotoxicity of algal dietary supplements A.H.Heussner https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X12004358

In 2001 an Italian group of researchers from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) tested Spirulina products sold in shops in Rome and found them contaminated by anatoxins.


A study on Spirulina products sold in China found a large number of them contaminated by microcystins.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02652030701822045 Food Additives and Contaminants Vol. 25, No. 7, July 2008, 885–894 Y. Jiang, P. Xie*, J. Chen and G. Liang



More recently, a study where the authors tested the three microalgae Spirulina, Chlorella and Klamath, found that among the 3 main edible microalgae the most microcystins-contaminated was Chlorella, followed by Spirulina, with Klamath AFA being actually the least contaminated. When considering all the possible contaminants, and not just microcystins, the researchers ([5], p. 10) concluded that “...the most contaminated products were those containing Spirulina”. P. Gallo, et al., Contaminazione da biotossine in prodotti ittici e integratori alimentari, Ingredienti Alimentari. XI, Ottobre (2012), pp. 6–11.

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