Focus on health to increase seafood consumption

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times — the key to increasing U.S. seafood consumption is consumer education.

At the Seafood Expo North America in mid-March, a conference on increasing seafood consumption focused on the health benefits of seafood as the key educational point.

It was at this conference that one of the most inspiring moments I’ve seen in seven years of attending the event (formerly the International Boston Seafood Show) took place. Attendees of the conference applauded a nurse practitioner from Brigham and Women’s Hospital Cardiovascular Wellness Service in Boston when she stood up and passionately advocated for consumer education to increase seafood consumption.

“The American Heart Association has documented scientific evidence that seafood is the only protein that can reduce the risk of heart disease, and that message is not getting out there,” Aileen Sauris said.

Not only was it exciting to hear the applause Sauris received, but more so it was encouraging to see someone from outside the seafood industry so passionate about increasing seafood consumption.

Sauris is working with Seafood Nutrition Partnership on a program that will help educate lower income families on seafood nutrition, how to cook and prepare seafood and inexpensive seafood options. The program is still in the design process.

Linda Cornish, SNP executive director told me shortly after the expo concluded that it was too early for an update on fundraising.

SNP launched the public phase of its fundraising campaign during the expo. At that time, it had raised USD 6 million (EUR 4.4 million) during the quiet phase of the campaign and is calling in the industry to raise the remaining USD 1.5 million (EUR 1.1 million) to underwrite a precedent-setting, three-year national public health campaign that would begin in 2015.

No matter the motivation, be it the seafood industry competing with the poultry and beef industries or trying to improve the health of consumers, the end goal is the same: get U.S. seafood consumption levels up. This is the kind of program the industry should definitely throw its weight behind.


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