Mercury in Fish Still a Concern

January 6, 2011 at 7:25 am Leave a comment

Want Tuna? Choose Chunk Light

As popular as canned tuna is, it is also the most common source of mercury in our diet. Testing by Consumer Reports’ confirms that white (albacore) tuna contains higher levels of mercury than chunk light tuna.

One serving (2.5 ounces, or about half a can) of white tuna or two servings of light tuna per week, exceeds the safe level set by the Environmental Protection Agency for those at highest risk, specifically women who are pregnant, might become pregnant, or are breastfeeding and young children because of possible neurotoxic effects from the methyl -mercury, a heavy metal found in larger fish that is released by coal-fired power plants and other industrial or natural sources, such as volcanoes, and finds its way into water, and then into our food supply.

Those considered at highest risk  are advised to avoid or limited tuna, and everyone else is encouraged to choose fish that have lower levels of mercury and are also rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Which Fish Should be Limited? How much is OK?

Besides Albacore (white) tuna, Consumer Reports’ analysis found occasional high mercury levels in light tuna, suggesting the need for a more cautious intake than the recommendations offered by the FDA and EPA. Four other high-mercury fish—king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish—also should be limited or avoided.

Who Recommended Intake (per week)
Children less than 45 pounds About 4 ounces of light tuna or 1.5 ounces of white (albacore) tuna.
Children 45 pounds or more About 4 to 12.5 ounces of light tuna or 1.5 to 4 ounces of white tuna depending on the child’s weight.
Pregnant women To be careful, avoid canned tuna. Choose a low-mercury fish instead.
Women of childbearing age About 12.5 ounces of light tuna or 4 ounces of white tuna.
Men and older women About 14.5 ounces of light tuna or about 5 ounces of white tuna per week should be OK, but people who eat fish more often would be prudent to stick to low-mercury types.

Is any Seafood Safe?

According to Consumer Reports, there are types of seafood that are low in mercury and based on a daily serving of 6 ounces for adults and 3 ounces for children.

Species Limit
Clams, Alaskan salmon, shrimp, and tilapia OK daily for everyone.
Oysters, pollock, and sardines OK daily for all adults. For children, oysters and sardines OK daily; pollock several times a week.
Pacific flounder and sole, herring, mullet, and scallops OK daily for men and postmenopausal women, several times a week for children and women of childbearing age

This information is adapted from an article found at GreenerChoices.


Entry filed under: Food Ingredients, Food Safety, Nutrition News, What's For LUNCH. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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