Consumers Union : In Their Own Words

What They Tell You About:

Mercury and Fish

FishOn December 26, 2008, Consumer Reports released a "Q&A about mercury in fish," written as an interview with Dr. Urvashi Rangan. The magazine continued its campaign in July 2009 with "The benefits (and risks) of eating fish," where it reiterated various claims about mercury in seafood and linked to previous articles. Yet another story ran in August of 2009, "Choose safer fish, reduce your mercury risk.

Mercury and Fish

What They're Not Telling You

The dangers of mercury in commercial seafood, as espoused by Rangan, are not in line with up-to-date scientific thought and research. Two major epidemiological studies followed more than five hundred families on the Faroe and Seychelles Islands over an extended period. They measured maternal methylmercury levels, the form of mercury that can be found in fish. Scientists from the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information conducted cognitive testing on the islands' offspring. The conclusion of the Faroe Islands study included mild negative effects of methylmercury, while the Seychelles study found none. However, the Faroe Islands research was fatally flawed because it studied a population that was eating whale meat not fish. Whales are known to carry more mercury because of their size and are not routinely eaten in the US. This error in methodology was not acknowledged or addressed by Consumer Reports reporting at all.

The Tough Questions:
Why does Consumers Union continue to ignore the latest science on fish and nutrition that argues consumers who skip the fish are actually introducing a health risk by not eating enough?