“We’re particularly concerned about canned tuna, which is second only to shrimp as the most commonly eaten seafood in the United States,” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “We encourage pregnant women to avoid all tuna.”
The National Fisheries Institute obviously went on the defensive since they represents corporate giants in seafood and restaurant industries, disputing the findings by Consumer Reports, saying the publication’s warning flies in the face of independent, peer-reviewed science.
The FDA’s new recommendation comes after an FDA study revealed one in five women were avoiding fish during pregnancy. More women are becoming informed and educated on the dangerous of consuming high-mercury fish.
EU’s food safety authorities have warned that pregnant women should limit consumption of swordfish and tuna due to high mercury levels which can cause brain damage in unborn children.
People are exposed to methylmercury primarily through their diet, especially through the consumption of fish and other marine species, as well as through the consumption of rice when it is grown in a methylmercury-rich environment.
In sufficient doses, methylmercury can affect the developing nervous system in the developing fetus and in growing children. In adults, elevated methylmercury exposure can lead to neurological problems, such as memory loss and tremors. Recent studies show that methylmercury exposures can also lead to cardiovascular and immune effects.
Research in Environment International Journal shows that women with higher levels of mercury exposure are more than twice as likely to have elevated levels of antibodies that are associated with autoimmune disorders such as arthritis and lupus.
The FDA lists on its Web site the average amount of mercury found in different types of fish. Most types of tuna have relatively high mercury levels. Unfortunately, according to Consumer Reports, the FDA may be underestimating the danger.
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