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Environmental connections to public health >>

Newspaper Tests Fish for Mercury

Monday, December 12, 2005
The Chicago Tribune is running a powerful series this week on mercury in seafood, including test results for eight different kinds of fish purchased in Chicago-area fish markets and supermarkets. The authors discuss mercury's health risks, interview government, industry and independent experts and even offer readers a calculator that lets people enter their weight and find out how much fish they can safely eat.

Three points the authors make in today's installment:

> Officials with the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of commercial seafood, told the Tribune that the agency has neither the time nor the money to routinely test fish.

> The FDA, for instance, does not require exporting countries to maintain safety, sanitation and inspection programs comparable with the U.S. system, even though 80 percent of the seafood that Americans consume is imported. By contrast, the Department of Agriculture, which monitors meat and poultry, requires every exporter to meet such standards.

> The FDA has issued warnings for canned albacore tuna, which has averaged 0.35 parts per million in the agency's testing. Yet the agency has not issued warnings for orange roughy, which averaged 0.57 parts per million in the Tribune testing, or walleye, which was at 0.51.

EWG's research on mercury in seafood is viewable online at http://www.ewg.org/issues/siteindex/issues.php?issueid=5010.

Use EWG's tuna calculator to see how much tuna is safe for you: http://www.ewg.org/issues/mercury/20031209/calculator.php.

 

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