Filed Under: Food Scares Seafood

The Flip Side of Mercury

Amidst the clamor from overeager “public advocates,” regulation-prone officials, and ill-informed investigators, it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the most recent activist cause célèbre: trace levels of mercury in fish. The aforementioned assemblage would have you believe that some fish have mercury levels that are dangerously high, especially for expectant mothers and young children, and that you should severely limit, if not totally cease, your fish intake. Recommendations like these are often based on an overly-cautious standard which includes a 10-fold safety factor.

If you want common sense rather than hype and hyperbole, look no further than our newly published report, “The Flip Side of Mercury,” which details our investigation into mercury levels in fish sold in various seafood outlets in Madison, WI, the site of this week’s Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant. As detailed in the report, our researchers, in conjunction with Frontier Geosciences Inc., collected and tested 142 samples of canned tuna, fresh fish, sushi, and restaurant fish from over three dozen different locations in Madison, WI.

Our results are good news for consumers. The highest fish-mercury level measured was less than 35 percent of what the FDA describes as “the lowest level associated with adverse effects” to human health. And the levels of selenium, which immerging science says helps protect the human body against mercury toxicity, were equally promising: Every fish species sampled averaged more selenium than mercury.

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson echoed our take in an op-ed in today’s The Wisconsin State Journal:

Mercury has been in our oceans, and thus in seafood, forever. No scientific study has ever found Americans with unsafe mercury levels from eating ocean fish and seafood. In fact, a Harvard study on the risks and benefits of eating fish found it would be riskier to public health if people stopped eating fish than any potential risk associated with mercury in fish.

Read the full report here.

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