Approximately 28 grocery store chains have begun posting signs about mercury levels in seafood. They have taken this action in response to increasing reports regarding the high levels of mercury in certain fish. A study released by Oceana in January indicates that mercury levels are higher than expected in fresh tuna steaks and swordfish, and in fact, are up to two times greater than the previously estimated level. The amount of mercury in sushi tuna is even higher than that of tuna steaks.
In 2004, the FDA, with the help of the EPA, issued a report warning women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid certain fish and to limit other types of fish and shellfish. Fish to be avoided because of high mercury content include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury may be eaten two times per week. These include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Based on Oceana’s latest study, it recommends that children and pregnant/nursing women limit their intake of tuna and swordfish and consider alternatives such as tilapia and sushi mackerel. The grocery store chains that have agreed to post warnings regarding mercury content in fish should be applauded for their commitment to the safety of their customers. Some of these stores include Kroger, Safeway, Harris Teeter, and Whole Foods. Hopefully, other grocery chains will join in these efforts.
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