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Agencies Update Seafood Guidance for Pregnant Women

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have issued draft updated advice on fish consumption that is consistent with recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

It recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant, and young children eat at least eight ounces and up to 12 ounces (two to three servings) per week of a variety of fish that are lower in mercury to support fetal growth and development.

The guidance includes a list different types of fish and how much mercury and omega-3 fatty acids they contain. Choices lower in mercury include shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. In addition, the draft updated advice recommends limiting consumption of white (albacore) tuna to six ounces a week.

Before issuing final advice, the agencies will consider public comments, and they also intend to seek the advice of the FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee and conduct a series of focus groups.

The advice is a response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the Mercury Policy Project (MPP). In July 2011, CSPI and MPP petitioned FDA to require signs in supermarkets and labels on packaged seafood giving consumers information on the relative amounts of mercury in fish and other seafood.

After receiving no response from the agency for two-and-a-half years, the groups filed a lawsuit to set a deadline for FDA to respond.

In May, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told the Associated Press that the agency would be updating guidance for pregnant women and young children regarding mercury, but that they do not intend to require labels as suggested by the two groups.

© Food Safety News
  • Larissa Halatyn Stayer

    I wouldn’t recommend shrimp at all from the Gulf of Mexico, the oil that spilled was sprayed with a toxic chemical that made it sink to the ocean floor, shrimp are coming up deformed and full of toxins. Also any fish out of the Pacific where Fukushima is still leaking? Not smart. And the ocean worldwide has too much bits of plastic, it’s winding up in fish, on the beaches, it’s disgusting. I don’t think fish is safe anymore. And genetically engineered fish is a dangerous idea. Better to recommend no fish at this point just to be safe.

  • MaryFinelli

    How irresponsible of these agencies to recommend that ANY fish be consumed. All of the nutrients derived from fish, including omegas, can be obtained much more safely from plant sources. In its analysis of outbreaks over the past decade, the Center for Science in the Public Interest found seafood to be “by far the most hazardous food,” causing more illnesses per consumption than any of the foods it tracked.

    Given the many health hazards presented from fish consumption (e.g., accumulated toxins, cholesterol, saturated fat, parasites, etc.) and the rampant mislabeling of fish (about a third of the seafood sold in the U.S. is said to be mislabeled), in addition to the immense environmental devastation and animal suffering caused by fishing and fish farming, everyone would be much better advised to steer clear of seafood.