Press Release

Fishy Mercury Scare Based On Study Of Whale-Heavy Diets, Says Ad in U.S. News & World Report

Washington, DC -¬ Today the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom is using a full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report to tell Americans that concerns over trace amounts of mercury in fish are based on a scientific study whose participants ate lots of whale meat — but comparatively little fish.

The ad features a mocked-up photo of canned “Whale Meat,” and reads:

Concerned About Mercury?

You shouldn’t be. Unless you eat this.

[Photo of “Whale Meat” can]

Environmental scares about trace amounts of mercury in fish rely on a study of island natives who eat huge amounts of whale meat. However, scientists who study heavy fish-eaters find no health risks from mercury. So unless you’re lunching on a Moby Dick sandwich, there’s no reason to worry.

Fish is good for you. Baseless anxiety (or whale blubber) isn’t.

Research covering whale-diet-eating citizens of the Faroe Islands (a North Atlantic chain) is cited frequently by activists and government regulators to justify warnings and scare stories about hypothetical health risks from mercury in fish. But a competing study in the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean island group, has found no harm from elevated mercury levels in children whose mothers ate 10 times as much fish as typical Americans — but no whale meat.

The latest findings from the ongoing Seychelles study were presented at the February 18 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. After tracking the same 770 children for nearly 16 years, scientists from the University of Rochester found that higher mercury exposure produced no negative effects at all, and appeared to benefit some children’s development.

“Fish is a health food,” said David Martosko, the Center for Consumer Freedom’s Director of Research. “Whale meat isn’t. In fact whale contains so many pollutants that it’s impossible to isolate the effects of mercury. When scientists study heavy fish-eaters, they find no mercury-related health problems. Many activists assume the whale example applies to fish, but there’s no scientific basis to believe it.”

To see the U.S. News ad and learn about misguided attempts to steer consumers away from eating fish, visit

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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