Scientists from the Institute for Agrochemistry and Food Technology in Burjassot, Spain have summarized the research about the influence of preservation and cooking on the arsenic speciation in food.
In general food processing may alter the concentration of arsenic in both directions, e.g. by leaching, transformation and contamination.
The concentration of Arsenic in seafood products is often enhanced during cooking because of weight loss of the tissue during the cooking process. A loss of arsenic during preparation of mussels has also been observed, because of leaching of organo arsenic compounds into the broth during the steaming process.
Not only the total concentration of arsenic in food may be altered
during processing but also the arsenic speciation. Especially higher
temperatures, such as those obtained during baking, grilling and frying
may lead to a decomposition of organo arsenic compounds.
Degradation has been observered for Arsenobetain (AB) to
trimethylarsine oxide (TMAO) and tetramethyl- arsonium (TMA), for
Dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) towards monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), and
of MMA towards inorganic arsenic in model systems at temperatures
exceeding 150 °C. However, such temperatures will not be reached inside
the products during normal food processing but occasionally may be
reached at the surface of the product in direct contact with the heat
In general cooking of vegetables and other foodstuffs of vegetable origin often leds to a reduction of arsenic content due to leaching into the boiling water in case of uncontaminated clean water.
The process of washing and soaking of edible algae such as Hizikia
fusiforme may led to a reduction of the arsenic content by as 60 %.
However, the inverse may happen, if arsenic tainted water is used for cooking. The complexing capacity of rice for example leds to nearly quantitative adsorption of arsenic from the boiling water, especilly if the cooking is done in a way, such that no water is left over after the rice is ready.
Apart from thermal degradation, alteration of speciation can also be caused by microbial activity. Since microbial activity is stopped only at temperatures well below the freezing point, arsenic speciation could in general be changed during refrigeration. The only study done so far with seafood indicates that moist arsenic species remained unaltered for 29 days with the exception of arsenobetaine (AB) and arsenocholine (AC). AB was transformed by microbial activity, producing TMAO, DMA, MMA, and an unidentified compound that might be dimethylarsinoylacetate. AC, on the other hand, underwent rapid degradation, producing AB as the only metabolite. The original study
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last time updated: June 25, 2020