Environmental Contaminants in Traditional Aboriginal

Maliseet Nation Conservation Council (MNCC) has been testing aboriginal food for contaminants since 2010. This program was supported by the Regional First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program (RFNECP) of Health Canada. So far MNCC has tested fiddleheads, moose meat and organs for contaminants.

Investigations  have revealed that fiddleheads contained slightly higher levels of cadmium and nickel than recommended maximum permissible levels for food. The studies also indicated that moose meat and liver samples collected from certain hunting zones, New Brunswick contained slightly higher levels of cadmium. Although moose liver is not safe to eat, there is no such restriction on consumption of moose meat.

Recent study conducted by MNCC to test speckled trout and deer meat for environmental contaminants indicated that except the speckled trout samples collected from Madawaska (n=5, mean=0.095 mg/kg, SD=0.05), samples from other communities contained arsenic exceeding safe limit for human consumption in accordance with People’s Republic of China – PRC (0.1mg/kg) export guidelines for finfish. Highest arsenic levels were estimated for trout samples collected from Russell’s Dam Oromocto (n=9, mean=0.726, SD=0.581). However, estimated mercury and cadmium contents for trout samples remained well within the safe levels in accordance with the PRC Export Guidelines for finfish. Study also indicated that not every trout sample collected from Maliseet communities contained high level of arsenic, and the estimated alarming arsenic levels for certain communities were driven by a sample or two from specific rivers/brooks. For example, speckled trout caught in Russell’s Dam, a brook from Doak Town area, Mills Stream, Sisson Brook, Holland Falls, Presque Isle River and McDougle Brook were found to contain high level of arsenic exceeding safe consumption levels for human.

Positive correlations between body length and arsenic and mercury contents and negative correlation between cadmium content and body length of trout were also observed during the present analysis. A few meat and liver samples of deer analysed during the present study did not contain contaminants exceeding safe limits for human consumption. However, it was not possible to test sufficient amount of samples to evaluate suitability of deer meat/organs for human consumption.

Environmental Contaminants in Trout and Deer (Report)

Contaminants in Fiddleheads and Moose (Brochure)

Moose Contaminants Study (Report)

Fiddleheads Contaminants Study (Report)