Health advice scrutinized
By Clare Leschin-Hoar, SeaFood Business contributing editor
10 August, 2010
When daytime television host Dr. Mehmet Oz took on the subject of methylmercury in seafood in an episode of “The Dr. Oz Show” that originally aired in late January, it grabbed the attention of seafood buyers and sellers. The National Fisheries Institute publicly criticized the segment for multiple inaccuracies, and challenged the show’s broad claims that mercury in fish was a serious concern for the general population.
And it’s just recently that the six-year-old joint seafood advisory has come under increased scrutiny. Critics say the seafood-consumption message has been muddled by consumers and media reports to include people beyond its intended demographic. As a result, people outside the at-risk group have embraced the health advisory as their own, and have incorrectly applied the mercury-consumption message outside the four species singled out in the original Food and Drug Administration/Environmental Protection Agency advisory. They say that misinformation means too many consumers, including pregnant women, are not getting the health benefits seafood consumption provides.
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines are updated every five years, industry experts say they're at a standstill waiting for the federal government to reassess the science when it comes to seafood consumption.
“The science is clear: The benefits are overwhelming in terms of eating fish, and there's a real need for clarification and encouragement from the government,” says NFI’s registered dietitian Jennifer McGuire. “The truth of the matter is, the advice about eating fish is very simple and very straightforward. For the general population, there are no commercial fish to avoid. We need to be clear with consumers. When you don't eat fish, heart disease and brain development risks are introduced.”
It’s an issue the FDA is still examining.
To read the rest of the story on seafood-consumption advice, click here. Written by SeaFood Business and SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Clare Leschin-Hoar, “Full Plate” ran in the August issue of SeaFood Business magazine.All Food Safety & Health stories >
10 August, 2010