The latest lawsuit brought against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concerns the levels of mercury in the seafood we eat. The Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Mercury Policy Project petitioned FDA in July 2011 to require signs in supermarkets and labels on packaged seafood that give consumers information on the relative amounts of mercury in fish and other seafood. Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires the agency to respond to petitions within 180 days of their receipt, which means a response was due by Jan. 14, 2012. But FDA never responded, so the groups have now filed a lawsuit in federal court to set a deadline for the agency to do so. “FDA has repeatedly acknowledged the link between seafood consumption and exposure to methylmercury in the United States, and yet it has not improved the availability or clarity of information about mercury in seafood for people … so that they can make informed decisions regarding seafood consumption,” reads the complaint filed Monday by non-profit public interest law organization Earthjustice on behalf of the advocate groups. “The public — and especially at-risk groups such as pregnant women and heavy fish eaters — urgently need updated information,” said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project. “It is unconscionable that FDA continues to drag its feet when the latest science indicates a far greater methylmercury exposure risk than when the agency developed its fish consumption advisory in 2004.” The groups are concerned that FDA’s “What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish” from 2004 is not reaching the general public. Labels and point-of-purchase signs, they argue, would better help consumers to reduce their risk of mercury exposure. “Consumers deserve to have the information they need to enjoy heart-healthy seafood while avoiding dangerous mercury,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, CSPI’s director for food safety.