Food and Drug Administration warns against eating fish

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued advice to vulnerable groups on the hazards of eating commercially and non-commercially caught fish which could be contaminated with mercury.

The EPA is recommending that women who could become – or already are – pregnant, as well as nursing mothers should limit their consumption of non-commercially caught fish (caught by family and friends) to six ounces per week, and young children should be limited to two ounces per week. The FDA, on the other hand, is warning about ocean fish that are near the top of the food chain, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, which accumulate the highest levels of methyl mercury through eating smaller fish containing the substance. People in the vulnerable groups can safely eat 12 ounces of a variety of other kinds of cooked fish, including shellfish, farm-raised fish and smaller ocean fish, according to the FDA.

The FDA’s Centre for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is expected to launch an education programme for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age, and their health-care providers, concerning the hazard posed by methyl mercury to the unborn child. The centre also intends to develop an overall public health strategy for future regulation of methyl mercury in commercial seafood.

Both agencies are keen to point out that fish can be an important source of nutrition, particularly for developing children.

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