We all know that eating fish can be good for us. The protein, the Omega 3s, the mercury. Er, well maybe not the mercury. That part can be fairly dangerous actually, especially for children and pregnant women. Yet according the Washington Post the FDA is urging the government to tell us to eat more fish, mercury risks be damned.
If approved by the White House, the FDA’s position would reverse the government’s current policy that certain groups — women of childbearing years, pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children — can be harmed by the mercury in fish and should limit their consumption.
The FDA’s recommendations have alarmed scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, who in internal memos criticized them as “scientifically flawed and inadequate” and said they fell short of the “scientific rigor routinely demonstrated by EPA.”
It is a bit frightening that the FDA wants to ignore the risks of mercury poisoning from fish. The neurological damage that can happen to fetuses exposed to high levels of mercury is severe. This is why previous limits on the types and amount of fish pregnant women should consume have been put into place. That the FDA would begin their proposal without consulting with the EPA early in the draft process makes a person wonder if there is some alternative reason for this. And I’m not alone is questioning the FDA.
“This is an astonishing, irresponsible document,” said Richard Wiles, the environmental group’s executive director. “It’s a commentary on how low FDA has sunk as an agency. It was once a fierce protector of America’s health, and now it’s nothing more than a patsy for polluters.”
The most recent statement on fish from both the FDA and the EPA was in 2004. They recommended that no moe than 12 ounces of low mercury fish and shellfish be eaten each week. They advised eating shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish as they are all low mercury, where as Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, and Tilefish should be avoided.
Image: Jean-François Chénier at Flickr under Creative Commons License