Environmentalists Demand FDA Lower Mercury Rates in Seafood

Categories: Food, Local News
"...maybe I should get tested."
Put the chopsticks down; you might want to curb your sashimi-binging habits after you read this.

We've all seen the signs when we've gone out to eat sushi -- the ones that the Food and Drug Administration require all food establishments to show that warn of the dangers of mercury poisoning that can come from eating seafood. But according to a lawsuit just filed in federal court, those warnings aren't enough.

Two environmental groups, the Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a lawsuit in San Francisco against the FDA and Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, hoping to make the bureaucracy take more proactive steps in protecting consumers from the dangers of mercury.
"To serve its mission and protect the public health, the FDA needs to further reduce the amount of mercury permitted in fish we eat to ensure that it protects the most vulnerable segments of the population from mercury-tainted fish in the U.S. food supply," the lawsuit states.

The two groups say that the present acceptable standard of "safe" mercury consumption, which is set by the FDA, is way too high. Currently, the FDA has the number set at 1 part per million (ppm) -- a number which the lawsuit claims should be halved to 0.5 ppm. 

Per the suit, "dome fish such as swordfish and tuna regularly exceed the 1 ppm limit. Lack of rigorous testing and enforcement has increased the availability of high-mercury fish on the market. Consumers are often completely unaware of the toxic levels of mercury in these fish."

Mercury exposure can potentially cause birth defects, kidney failure, and genetic damage in adults. Recent studies have shown a possible link of mercury exposure to increased risks of depression, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.

And here we thought fish was supposed to be a brain food.

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The EPA has produced a study claiming that millions of American women have mercury at levels that risk the health of their children and  themselves. The non profit Got Mercury has tested seafood and discovered mercury levels far in excess of the FDA Action level.  Consumers concerned about mercury can calculate their levels on the Got Mercury website and determine if they are consuming too much mercury from many commonly consumed seafood products.

@gotmercury.org, @tirn.net

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