Joint FDA/EPA fish consumption advisory released

On Friday, March 19th, the Food & Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint consumer advisory about mercury in fish and shellfish.

March 26, 2004 -- On Friday, March 19th, the Food & Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint consumer advisory about mercury in fish and shellfish.

The advice is for women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children.

Aside from being issued jointly by two federal agencies, this advisory is important because it emphasizes the positive benefits of eating fish and gives examples of commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury.

In the past, FDA issued an advisory on consumption of commercially caught fish, while EPA issued advice on recreationally caught fish.

By following these three recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury:

• Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

• Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
- Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
- Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

• Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.

For more detailed information, visit EPA's internet site at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/ or visit http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/seafood1.html or call the FDA's food information line toll-free at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.


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