Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are found as contaminants of some types of seafood. Their levels are controlled by European Union legislation.

Current maximum permitted levels of PAHs are listed below.

Seafood Maximum permitted levels of benzo(a)pyrene (µg/kg) Maximum permitted level of the sum of benzo(a)pyrene, benz(a)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene and chrysene (µg/kg)

Muscle meat of smoked fish and smoked fishery products (i.e those listed under CN 0305, 0306, 0307 and 1605), excluding smoked sprats, canned smoked sprats, traditionally smoked products as listed below, and bivalve molluscs.

Where fish are intended to be eaten whole, the maximum level shall apply to the whole fish.

The maximum level for smoked crustaceans applies to muscle meat from appendages and abdomen, excluding the cephalothorax of crustaceans.

In case of smoked crabs and crab-like crustaceans (Brachyura and Anomura), it applies to muscle meat from appendages.



Traditionally smoked fish and smoked fishery products, smoked in Ireland, Latvia, Romania, Finland, Sweden or the UK and intended  for consumption in that territory.



Smoked sprats and canned smoked sprats (Sprattus sprattus).

Where fish are intended to be eaten whole, the maximum level shall apply to the whole fish. For the canned product the analysis shall be carried out on the whole content of the can. As regards the maximum level for the whole composite product, account has to be taken of the relative proportions of the ingredients in the product as well as any dilution or concentration factors.



Smoked bivalve molluscs



The relevant EU Regulation is Regulation 1881/2006 as amended. The latest amendments to the PAH levels are given in Regulation 2015/1125.

The Codex Alimentarius has produced a Code of Practice for for the Reduction of Contamination of Food with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) from Smoking and Direct Drying Processes.

Access a pdf of the Code of Practice