NFI takes on Dr. Oz


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
January 27, 2010

The National Fisheries Institute of McLean, Va., on Wednesday took aim at The Dr. Oz Show for a segment that ran on Tuesday focusing on toxins at the dinner table, including methylmercury in seafood.

In a letter to the show’s producer, NFI said there were “serious scientific inaccuracies” linking fish consumption to mercury.

NFI pointed out that Dr. Oz contradicts the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by saying seafood is not a concern for only pregnant women and children but for “all of us.”

“The FDA advice clearly states, ‘for most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern.’ The CDC study he cites actually says ‘finding a measurable amount of mercury in blood or urine does not mean that levels of mercury cause an adverse effect,’” said NFI.

NFI also criticized the show for explaining how mercury ends up in the seafood Americans eat, pointing out that pollution contributes to mercury found in lakes and streams where recreational fish are found, not commercial seafood. NFI said this is not the only time the segment confused commercial and recreational fish, including mention of an Environmental Protection Agency study that showed almost all freshwater fish in the United States contain some amount of mercury.

“That is true, but the ‘freshwater’ fish he is describing are recreational fish from lakes and streams and not the commercial seafood he displayed in the studio,” said NFI. “In fact, the study he references did not test the types of seafood available in restaurants and grocery stores at all.”

NFI also questioned the two guests that appeared on the segment — one a “mercury expert” that NFI claimed is a physician with ties to environmental activists and the other a woman diagnosed with mercury poisoning who claimed she ate sushi twice a week.

NFI called the segment “irresponsible” for testing fish and finding different levels of mercury without revealing the levels or how they compare to federal allowable levels. The organization also labeled the show as “incomplete” for looking only at mercury and ignoring the healthy nutrients in fish.

NFI is asking the show to address and correct the inaccuracies and errors on the air and on its Web site.

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