FDA, EPA Alter Fish Consumption Recommendations

Ten years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised pregnant, breastfeeding women, and women who might become pregnant, to limit their fish consumption to not more than 12 ounces per week to protect the fetus and children from mercury – a mineral which is present in all fish in varying degrees.

However, the FDA’s recent analysis of the reported seafood consumption of more than 1,000 pregnant women in the United States found that more than 20% of them had eaten no fish at all in the previous month. Of the women who reported eating fish, 50% ate less than 2 ounces a week, and 75% ate less than 4 ounces per week. Because of the beneficial link between eating fish during pregnancy and children’s growth and development, the FDA and EPA Fishesare now recommending that pregnant and breastfeeding women eat at least 8–12 ounces per week of a variety of fish that are low in mercury.

So which fish have low mercury content? The good news is that most fish in the grocery stores do. These are: shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, cod, flatfish, and haddock. The four fish that the FDA and EPA continue to recommend that women in the target group and young children avoid, because of their very high mercury level, are: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

The two agencies continue to recommend that women in the target group eat no more than 6 ounces per week of albacore tuna, which is nearly three times the amount that most women are now eating of any type of fish in a typical week.

(Source: Institute of Food Technologists)