[PHNUTR-L] NY Times: So Is Fish Safe to Eat or Not?
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Thu Dec 25 07:36:05 PST 2008
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So Is Fish Safe to Eat or Not?
Published: December 23, 2008
The federal government has been trying to persuade pregnant and
breast-feeding women to limit their intake of fish because of mercury
contamination. Now some federal scientists are arguing that these women
should actually increase their fish consumption. The behind-the-scenes
disagreement is fierce and raises serious questions for consumers.
The current official advice from the Food and Drug Administration and
the Environmental Protection Agency is that pregnant and nursing women
and young children can safely eat up to 12 ounces — roughly two servings
— of most fish a week, but should limit their intake of albacore tuna to
6 ounces a week and avoid entirely four species of fish containing high
levels of mercury.
Now the two agencies are at loggerheads over the two-serving limit. The
F.D.A. has circulated a draft report suggesting that the vast majority
of fetuses and infants would actually benefit if their mothers ate more
than two servings of fish a week because fish contain highly beneficial
nutrients that aid in brain development. The F.D.A.’s scientists argue
that those benefits outweigh any potential harm.
Those contentions are sharply disputed by specialists at the E.P.A. who
charged that the report had “serious scientific flaws,” relied on
questionable models and should not be used as a basis for
decision-making. That is a strong indictment that must be answered
before the public can place any confidence in the F.D.A.’s judgment.
Meanwhile, experts caution that consumers should choose from fish that
are low in mercury, such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock
Although the draft strikes some as another last-minute effort by the
Bush administration to weaken industry oversight, it can provide a
useful opportunity to review whether mercury warnings have gone too far
in driving women away from a potentially beneficial food source.
The report is still undergoing revision at the F.D.A., which pledges to
publish it for comment before deciding how to proceed. Only then will a
wide array of experts be able to tell if the final recommendations make
sense or are dangerously flawed.
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
"Ask the Parkinson Dietitian" http://www.parkinson.org/
"Eat well, stay well with Parkinson's disease"
"Parkinson's disease: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy"
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