CSPI Calls on FDA to Require Seafood Mercury POP Notices

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should urge states to require easy-to-understand advice about mercury in fish right at the seafood counter, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) here.

The consumer group says such notices would warn high-risk consumers -- pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, and young children -- not to eat swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, while also reminding them to limit their consumption of fresh, frozen, and canned white tuna.

California already uses POP notices similar to the one CSPI proposed to the FDA, and several major grocers, including Safeway and Wild Oats, post versions of their own. But CSPI says a standardized message would be beneficial to state policymakers, retailers, and consumers alike, many of which are justifiably confused about the risks posed by mercury in seafood.

"The current advisory on mercury in fish is very complex and was clearly not intended for the general public," noted CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. "FDA should ask urge supermarkets to put clear information right at the fish counter, where pregnant women or those serving young children can easily see it. That way, pregnant consumers don't have to avoid the fish counter, but can easily choose alternative seafood that doesn't carry the risk."

DeWaal will convey that message today during a presentation at an international conference, "Seafood and Health," in Washington, D.C.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Mercury Policy Project, and the environmental group Oceana similarly are calling on the FDA to push point-of-purchase advisories on mercury in seafood.
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