Media Still Perpetuating Mercury Myth
Houston Chronicle rips off New York Times flawed fish report
Its happened again, this time in Houston. A Sunday March 30th report in the Houston Chronicle detailed yet another set of mercury tests done on bluefin tuna found in local sushi restaurants. The story promised to expose levels that exceed the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) action levels. But it told only half the tale and omitted key facts.
Fact: There has never been a single case of mercury toxicity in this
country attributed to the normal consumption of seafood. A toxicologist
hired by the Chronicle is quoted as saying he would not eat sushi tuna
after conducting this study, but the reporter failed to mention that no
peer-reviewed medical journal in this country has ever reported on a
single case of mercury toxicity from the normal consumption of seafood.
Fact: The latest series of mercury in sushi tuna stories started as
a result of two things. One, the New York Times published a report on
January 23rd that revealed the results of its own sushi tuna mercury tests,
and two, the release of a report by eco-lobbying group Oceana that also
tested seafood for mercury a test the paper mimicked without
referencing the research already done by the Times or the environmental
That Times story has been widely discredited by Time magazine, Slate.com, The Center for Independent Media and the Times
own public editor. And close inspection Oceanas report, that tested
seafood in 26 cities, reveals it found average levels of mercury in
both fresh and sushi tuna that were well below the federal limit. It
simply did not find average levels of mercury that would come anywhere
close to those associated with adverse health effects.
Fact: The Chronicle article claims the FDAs action level for
mercury is nonbinding and that no federal agency can take action in
cases where mercury levels are exceeded, which is false. A simple
Google search of the words FDA action level returns this definition from the FDAs own Web site:
Action levels and tolerances represent limits at or above which FDA
will take legal action to remove products from the market. Not quite
the nonbinding paper tiger described by the Chronicle.
Fact: The irrefutable science behind the mercury in fish issue
highlights the fact that consumers are simply not in danger from normal
consumption of seafood. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
defines the oral Reference Dose (RfD) for mercury as an, estimate of a daily exposure to the human population that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of deleterious effects during a lifetime.
That means you would have to eat seafood that contains mercury
ten-times above the action level everyday for the rest of your life to
begin to even approach a level that would cause concern.
In the face of facts, some members of the media continue to
gravitate towards sensationally-slanted stories. Scaring readers away
from seafood has real public health implications. Three scientific
studies within the last month from the Child and Family Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, and Wayne State University School of Medicine show
that the Omega 3 fatty acids found in seafood are critical to early
childhood development, specifically brain development in babies.
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
Contact InformationGavin Gibbons