Last updated on December 11th, 2017 at 04:39 pm
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final advice regarding fish consumption for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant as well as breastfeeding mothers and parents of young children.
To help these consumers more easily understand the types of fish to select, the agencies have created an reference chart that sorts 62 types of fish into three categories:
- Best Choices—eat two to three servings a week
- Good Choices—eat one serving a week
- Fish to Avoid
An FDA analysis of fish consumption data found that 50 percent of pregnant women surveyed ate fewer than 2 ounces a week, far less than the amount recommended.
The advice recommends two to three servings of lower-mercury fish per week, or 8 to 12 ounces. However, all fish contain at least traces of mercury, which can be harmful to the brain and nervous system if a person is exposed to too much of it over time. The maximum level of consumption recommended in the final advice is consistent with the previously recommended level of 12 ounces per week.
For adults, a typical serving is 4 ounces of fish, measured before cooking. Serving sizes for children should be smaller and adjusted for their age and total calorie needs. It is recommended that children eat fish once or twice a week, selected from a variety of fish types.
For fish caught recreationally, consumers are urged to check for local advisories where they are fishing and gauge their fish consumption based on that. If no information on fishing advisories is available, eat just one meal per week from local waters and avoid other fish that week.
Consumers should clean and trim the fish they catch of fat and skin, since locally-caught fish may contain contaminants besides mercury that can be reduced by proper trimming and cooking (e.g., broiling instead of frying can reduce some contaminants by letting fat drip away from the fish).
All retailers, grocers and others are urged to prominently post this new advice, including the reference chart listing fish to choose, in their stores so consumers can make informed decisions when and where they purchase fish. The agencies will be implementing a consumer education campaign working with a wide array of public and private partners featuring the new advice.