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Agencies Update Advice On Eating Fish

by Britt E. Erickson
June 16, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 24

Credit: Shutterstock
Photo of a female teen squeezing lemon on a meal of fish and vegetables.
Credit: Shutterstock

The federal government is revising its recommendations for pregnant women and children about consuming fish. It is encouraging them to eat more fish—but only types that contain low levels of mercury. “Limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients,” FDA’s acting chief scientist, Stephen Ostroff, says. These nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, are essential for development. Previously, FDA and EPA recommended limits on amounts of fish that pregnant women and young children should consume because of concerns about the harmful effects of mercury, which is often a contaminant in large fish. The updated advice, released in draft form last week, recommends at least 8 oz and up to 12 oz per week, spread over two or three servings, of low-mercury fish and seafood such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, and cod. It also recommends that pregnant women and children avoid tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel because they contain high levels of mercury.


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