ANNUAL AUGUST SHUTDOWN Last order date is July 22. We will be CLOSED starting Saturday, July 30, 2016.
We will RE-OPEN Monday, August 29, 2016.
No orders will be taken or processed during the shutdown.
For the 2014 harvest (products to be sold mostly in 2015), we again had samples of a selection of sea vegetables tested and the results are consistent with previous years, showing only background radioactivity. To see these most recent results, click here 2014 Harvest Results(150K PDF).
Since the tsunami and nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, we have had samples of nearly all of our products tested for radioactivity. This includes samples from the 2011 harvest through the 2014 harvest. All results to date have shown only background radioactivity—no evidence of fallout from Fukushima. For example, there is a natural radioactive isotope of potassium (K-40) that is found in most if not all land and sea plants, as well as in seawater, soils, etc., and accounts for nearly all of the radioactivity observed in our seaweeds. See past results below.
Report for Harvest Period 2015 (Products for 2016)
Why We Test
Although we harvest in remote areas of the Gulf of Maine, we cannot control the ocean currents. And although seaweeds have been consumed safely for centuries, we want to make sure there are no significant changes in a plant's analysis from season to season, particularly regarding trace metals.
When We Test
Microbiological testing is conducted throughout the year on a range of products, but most of our other tests are done with a sampling protocol after the harvest is completed at the end of the year. Therefore, the results in this report refer to plants/products that will be sold mostly in 2016.
Who Does the Testing?
Our testing is performed or coordinated by Katahdin Analytical Services and Northeast Laboratory Services in Maine, and Brooks Applied Labs in Washington State, all certified and accredited laboratories. Our radioactivity testing is done at the University of Maine.
General Notes on Product Testing
The seaweeds we harvest are wild, uncultivated marine algae. Specific analysis may vary from the above typical analysis. Naturally occurring fluctuations in the sea plants occur due to season, weather conditions, tidal flow and time of harvest. The information presented above is believed to be accurate and reliable, but represents averages and is not guaranteed as a condition of sale. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables makes no warranty, either express or implied, and assumes no liability for this information or the products described.
We believe that traditional whole foods such as seaweeds are well suited for nourishing human cells. Worldwide, seaweed is and has been consumed with healthy results. However, we are unable to predict your body’s response. There may be elements of these plants not suitable for your particular biochemistry or condition. Only you can determine what's best for you, in consultation with your healthcare practitioner.
All results preceded by a < (less than) indicate that none were detected above the given limit of detection. MPN/g = Most Probable Number per gram, and is a unit of microbial numbers in a sample. ND = Not Detected
The presence of certain elements in sea vegetables causes alarm to some consumers. The following information addresses those concerns. Critical to evaluating this issue are the following: what form are these elements in, in what amounts, bioavailability, and the historical, cultural, or epidemiological evidence. Because sea vegetables have often been as low on the scientific research priority list as they are on the food chain, at times we have to infer from studies of other food groups, as well as use our native intelligence and intuition.
Sea vegetables contain a wide array of major minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, lead, cadmium, aluminum, zinc, arsenic, and many more. Many of these, in the right quantities and forms (often “organic”) are proven or estimated to be essential to human health. In the straight "inorganic" form and in excessive quantity, they can be toxic. Let's look at arsenic as an example.
Arsenic occurs in many forms in biological systems, but there are two basic types, inorganic and organic. Inorganic arsenic occurs naturally (20th most abundant element in the earth's crust), and has also been used in many industrial products such as pesticides, paint, and a host of manufactured chemical compounds. Inorganic arsenic is known to be toxic at substantial levels, causing skin lesions, organ damage, and promoting tumor growth, and, in acute overdose, is fatal. Organic arsenic is potentially found in all living organisms. Plants absorb the mineral from the soil (or in the case of sea vegetables, from the ocean) and transform it into one of many forms of organic arsenic, possibly as a way to detoxify the arsenic.
Animal studies have shown arsenic to be essential to heart and skeletal muscle function in goats, and beneficial in small amounts to a variety of laboratory animals. Recent work indicates that arsenic may have a role in methionine metabolism. Therefore, it is plausible to suggest that humans have an essential need for trace amounts of arsenic, at an estimated requirement of 12 to 50μg (micrograms) per day.
Scientists looking at Japanese sea vegetables and consumption habits concluded that eating seaweed provided on average about 100 to 150μg arsenosugars (a form of organic arsenic) per day.1 Even with this high intake, there are no reports that the Japanese population demonstrates symptoms of arsenic toxicity due to sea vegetables.
The same sort of reasoning often applies to other metals as well. They occur naturally; they are taken up and transformed by land or sea plants, and are utilized or excreted as needed by mammals and other animals. For example, aluminum is an abundant metallic element, about 8% of the earth's crust and in the organic form is commonly found in vegetation. Beans contain 20-250 ppm, peppers and peanuts contain 50-200 ppm, corn and wheat contain 20-300 ppm. We can eat these without toxic consequences because metallic aluminum has been transformed by the plants' metabolic processes into nontoxic organic, colloidal forms. It's even logical to suspect that our bodies, which evolved from the earth's elements, might have a use for this very common element in organic form. Inorganic aluminum, however, is known to be toxic, and is implicated in Alzheimer's and breast cancer
A conversation with Dr. Ernest Foulkes, a heavy metals researcher at McGill University in Montreal focused on whether the bound organic metallic compounds are broken down at all in the human stomach (pH 1). And, if they are, how they may recombine in the small intestine (pH 6) with hundreds of chelating substances (proteins, amino acids, bile salts, complex sugars and fibers) and pass harmlessly through the gut.
As there's much yet to learn, we recommend that you consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions about your intake of heavy metals. Dietary deficiencies and genetic variability, for instance, can affect how well an individual processes metals, nutrients, or any other substance. Furthermore, vocational or environmental exposure may impact one's body load of metals and effect metabolic capacities.