September 29, 2010
Mr. Jay McGraw
Stage 29 Productions, LLC
2401 Colorado Avenue, Suite 110
Santa Monica, CA 90404-3585
Dear Mr. McGraw,
On June 8, 2010, I wrote you to express my concern that Dr. Travis Stork misstated the FDA advisory concerning seafood and mercury during a segment of “The Doctors” that aired nationwide on June 7, 2010. I offered the expertise of our staff dietitian on background so that your producers and on-air talent could correctly understand the advisory and accurately convey those guidelines to your viewers. It’s disappointing that we never heard back from you or any representative of your program.
”The Doctors” September 21 episode aired another segment on fish and mercury. During the broadcast, Dr. Stork referred viewers to the show's Web site for a list of fish his viewers should avoid eating; it reads in part:
"Fish has long held a vaunted place in a healthy diet. However, environmental pollutants release the element mercury, a toxin, into the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans, which accumulates and contaminates the fish supply. As a result, people are advised to consume no more than 12 ounces of seafood per week, or no more than three sushi rolls, and to avoid fish high in mercury. Check local advisories about the safety of fish in your local waters.
“…Pregnant and nursing women are cautioned to avoid seafood altogether.”
Having distorted the FDA’s advisory a second time—after we corrected you and clarified those guidelines in writing– is a shameless if not reckless threat to public health. We feel that you are obliged to revise the content published on the Web site and make an on-air correction clarifying that:
The FDA advisory does not need your program’s interpretation and should be posted to your Web site as published; it clearly states the following for “women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, are nursing, or young children:
1. Do not eat exotic fish like Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish. Up to six ounces of that total can come from albacore tuna.
3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.”
Continuing to ignore our outreach and failing to make these corrections to the Web site and on-air, exposes your show as one that is not earnestly interested in delivering reliable, accurate medical information.
National Fisheries Institute
cc: Andrew Scher