May 28, Washington, D.C. – Two of the world’s top experts on brain health are calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update its 2004 advice on fish and pregnancy because it is out of date and may be “inadvertently causing harm.” The extraordinary request came in the form of an open letter and petition from Professors Thomas Brenna of Cornell University and Michael Crawford of London Metropolitan University to FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg that was posted online.
"[A] consistent stream of new publications and international scientific evaluations has persuaded us that this advice has become outdated and that it may be inadvertently causing harm, inconsistent with your public health mission,” the letter states. “We commend FDA for its history of willingness to modify that advice when warranted by new information. The time for the next update has come."
Brenna and Crawford have created an online petition where interested parties can add their signatures to the letter.
“NFI applauds Professors Brenna and Crawford for their foresight in calling for an update to the advice,” said NFI President John Connelly. “Over the past six years the scientific community has produced a wealth of evidence supporting the fact that the real risk to pregnant women and unborn children is that they aren’t eating enough fish. We’re happy to add our signatures to the petition and urge members of the public to join us.”
According to Brenna and Crawford, science had not advanced enough by 2004 to properly consider the full health benefits of eating fish. "[I]t is no longer consistent with the recommendation to limit consumption of all fish to a maximum of 12 ounces per week for pregnant and lactating women and women who may become pregnant," according to the letter. "There is persuasive new evidence that consumption of more than 12 ounces per week of most marketplace species will actually improve fetal neurodevelopment. This improvement occurs in spite of methyl-mercury in most, if not all fish."
The letter closes with a call to FDA to complete its work on a draft report it initially released in January 2009 that used a new method for measuring the net beneficial effect of seafood consumption.
For more than 60 years, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) and its members have provided American families with the variety of sustainable seafood essential to a healthy diet. For more information visit: www.AboutSeafood.com.