Press Release

Mercury Testing Gives Fish a Clean Bill of Health

Washington — Today the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) released a report detailing the first comprehensive mercury testing of fish sold in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The results are undeniably good for consumers.

Working with an independent laboratory, the Center tested 142 samples of canned tuna and fresh fish from 36 different retail stores in Washington, DC and the nearby Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Using published standards from the Food and Drug Administration as a guide, every fish sampled for this study is safe to eat.

The FDA has written that its mercury Action Level (1.0 part per million) was established “to limit consumers’ methyl mercury exposure to levels 10 times lower than the lowest levels associated with adverse effects.” Adjusting for this ten-fold safety factor, the highest mercury level measured in the Washington, DC region was 350 percent lower than what the FDA believes might represent a health risk for consumers.

“Guidelines from the FDA and EPA include safety margins of 1,000 percent. Consumers should have this information, but many environmental groups would rather scare Americans than educate them,” said Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko. “Despite the recent fish tales about mercury, every specimen we tested is perfectly safe to eat. That’s not surprising, since the medical literature contains no American cases of mercury poisoning from fish consumption.”

The CCF report, Safe Fish, also re-examined mercury levels reported in studies published by the Chicago Tribune and five environmental advocacy groups. Despite dire food-safety warnings from the reports’ authors, absolutely none of them identified fish whose mercury levels represent a health concern. And tuna, which has been singled out for criticism by many of these groups, tested comparatively low in mercury.

In November, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan addressed the proliferation of mercury warnings in places where fish are sold, telling a California court that they “scare people away from a healthy food.”

Fish sampled for CCF’s study include canned light and albacore tuna, fresh yellowfin (ahi) tuna, swordfish, salmon, Chilean sea bass, and rockfish.

Learn more about mercury hype and try the Internet’s only realistic mercury-fish calculator at

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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