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Something Fishy With Seafood?

Studies show that mercury found in some fishes can be unhealthy and dangerous for pregnant women. But experts say little has been done to warn those at risk, even after a food safety committee of the U.S. Food and Drug recommended consumers be warned.

Seeking to make the public aware of the mercury danger in fish, the California Attorney General's office has made it mandatory for state grocery stores to post warning signs about the dangers of eating certain types of fishes.

The Early Show's medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay says the signs will be posted because grocery stores were ignoring a 1986 law that demanded they warn consumers about food containing cancer-causing chemicals that can cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Dr. Senay explains mercury in the body can result in impaired coordination, blurred vision, tremors, irritability, memory loss and behavioral or intellectual problems. She says the people most at risk from mercury intake are pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children because the toxin can harm a child's developing nervous system.

The Food and Drug Administration says power plant emissions that are washed into the rivers and oceans help mercury get into fish. Dr. Senay says many people may be unaware that certain fishes contain much higher levels of mercury than other species.

The fish that the FDA says have high level of mercury are:

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • King Mackeral
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna

    Source: Fish Facts For Good Health / The Wash. Dept. of Health


All the fishes listed are longer-lived and feed on other fishes — accumulating mercury in their system. Dr. Senay says canned tuna was recently added to the list because people consume a lot of it.

The FDA recommends that people average no more than 12 ounces of these fishes per week.

But, Dr. Senay assures, there are some fishes that are safer and healthier to eat.

Here are some samples of safe fishes to eat:

  • Salmon
  • Flounder
  • Cod
  • Catfish
  • Trout

    Source: Fish Facts For Good Health / The Wash. Dept. of Health

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