Your Guide to Safe Seafood

Is eating seafood safe? The pros and cons have been a hot topic for several years. Many of these fears stem from contaminants in the water. When you’re talking about mercury or PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls*) overload, pregnant women are generally advised to use the most caution. Both health-damaging substances are passed from the mother to the developing child. Children should be kept away from sources of mercury and PCBs, as it may hamper their growth and development.

When choosing seafood, there are a few simple rules. In general, the larger or older the fish, the more contaminated it tends to be. For example, while pregnant or when feeding children tuna, stick with chunk light tuna rather than white tuna or albacore because the tuna used for “chunk light” is a smaller fish. Since a consumer doesn’t know how large or old a fish is, how can you easily figure out which fish are the safest?

Wondering if there is an easy way to figure out which fish are the safest?

A group called Physicians for Social Reform has created a wallet card to make choosing seafood much simpler. Their guide shows the fish least likely to contain contaminants. For example, a very common fish on the “Avoid” end of the scale is swordfish. At the “Enjoy” end of the scale, you’ll find tilapia and haddock. Personally, I avoid tilapia, as it is used to clean the bottom of fish farms.

You can obtain a copy of this easy-to-use guide via the internet at http://www.mercuryaction.org/fish or by calling 1-202-667-4260.

SOURCE: http://www.mercuryaction.org/fish/; Center for Science in the Public Interest Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 1988

* PCB: polychlorinated biphenyls, used for years in lubricants and coolants, banned in the U.S. since 1979 as a “probable human carcinogen.”

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