Press Release

Madison, Wisconsin Fish Given a Clean Bill of Health

Madison WI – According to a report released today by the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), low mercury levels-and higher amounts of selenium-make fish sold in Madison, WI restaurants and grocery stores safe to eat. The test results, contained in a new report titled “The Flip Side of Mercury,” were published on the first full day of the Madison-based Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant.

[click here to download full report]

CCF contracted with an independent laboratory to test 142 samples of canned tuna, fresh fish, sushi, and restaurant fish from 38 different Madison locations. And using published mercury standards from the Food and Drug Administration as a guide, every sampled fish is safe to eat.

The highest fish-mercury level measured in the Madison, WI region was less than 35 percent of what the FDA describes as “the lowest level associated with adverse effects” to human health.

In addition, all 142 fish were tested for levels of selenium, which-according to nearly 40 years of published science-helps protect the human body against mercury exposure.

Every fish species sampled in Madison averaged more selenium than mercury. Emerging science indicates this may provide consumers with adequate protection from any theoretical mercury-related harm.

“It is increasingly clear,” said CCF Director of Research David Martosko, “that talking only about mercury levels in fish, and ignoring selenium’s protective effects, misses half the story. Yet environmental activist groups fail to mention selenium when they warn the public about the hypothetical health risks from mercury in fish. Our test results should make Madison consumers confident about including fish in their diets.”

“Consumers need to know that selenium is truly the flip side of the mercury debate,” Martosko continued. “Even without considering selenium’s protective effects, every fish we tested in Madison is safe to eat. It’s easy to understand how the only cases of fish-related mercury poisoning in the medical literature involved massive industrial spills 40 and 50 years ago. The fish today’s consumers are eating is perfectly safe.”

Fish sampled for CCF’s study include canned light and albacore tuna as well as catfish, cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, mahi-mahi, orange roughy, perch, red snapper, striped bass, swordfish, tilapia, trout, walleye, whitefish, yellowfin (‘ahi) tuna, and yellowtail.

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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