Mercury enters the water from man-made and natural sources, such as volcanoes. Fish have always absorbed mercury through their food. Most fish contains trace amounts of mercury and the average concentration in the 10 most popular commercial fish is 5 times safer than the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s limit of 1.0 part per million.
Importantly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control have never documented a case of mercury poisoning in the U.S. from eating commercially caught fish. Public health professionals encourage Americans to eat fish as part of a healthy diet. Its’ high-protein, low-fat nature means that fish can be part of a weight control plan. Fish has a long history of being a heart-healthy meal.
The FDA has developed special advice for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant. Because the omega-3 fatty acids in fish are vital to mothers and the developing baby, expectant mothers should be sure to include a variety of fish in their diets.
FDA advises pregnant women to avoid eating shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel, species that can approach the FDA’s limit. Most importantly, the American Heart Association, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization recommend regular fish consumption for its many health benefits.
“Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon”, Science 2004.
By Charles R. Santerre, PhD; Associate Professor, Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University
For more information regarding mercury levels in fish please log on to FDA’s website.