Sea Port’s Input: The FDA should purpose the modernization of their outdated 2004 seafood consumption guidelines to overwhelmingly promote the “Key” positive message for increasing seafood consumption in America and to finally eliminate the unrealistic concerns of methylmercury poisoning risks that have unfortunately stolen the spotlight away from the good news of seafood’s many health benefits. The FDA cannot continue to allow the very slight chances of consuming harmful levels of methylmercury from wild caught seafood to keep on killing the “Key” message that pregnant women or those who may become pregnant and all Americans need to dramatically increase their seafood consumption levels.
In its revision, Sea Port advises that the FDA eliminate the methylmercury fear by stressing the ridiculously low chances of being poisoned when consuming wild caught and farmed seafood in America. This is appropriate to do so now and will be even more relevant in future years when an ever-increasing percentage of our seafood will come from farms (not wild fisheries) that will be essentially methylmercury free.
Sea Port believes that the following points strongly support the FDA acting on this revision advice:
· The science in the FDA’s own recently released Net Effects Study on Fish Consumption supports taking this positive non-fearful perspective as exemplified by the finding that the 4 commercial wild caught fish species that contain high levels of methylmercury (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish) are outliers and contribute the equivalent weight of about 4 grains of rice to America’s per capita seafood consumption! This is a ridiculously low amount, yet it is unfortunately given a disproportional level of risk credence in regards to methylmercury poisoning exposure and hence creates a persistent and dominating unreasonable public fear about eating all seafood categories regardless if they are wild or farmed.
· 75% of our seafood consumption now comes from just 10 seafood species/families that taken as a whole represent a negligible methylmercury poisoning risk to the American public. Nearly 60% of our per capita intake of seafood is now produced by aquaculture in which methylmercury accumulation in the farmed output is negligible or non-existent.
· In other countries that consume more than ten times as much seafood as we do, such as Japan (160 lbs.) and Iceland (198 lbs.), their citizens are not suffering from methylmercury poisoning problems.
· Seafood is at least 7 times less likely to cause illnesses of any kind compared to America’s most popular land based animal meat proteins. This certainly helps support the overall “key” message for increasing seafood consumption without unreasonable fear.
In summary: The bullet points listed above indicate that the FDA may be inadvertently discouraging Americans to consume more seafood by currently overweighting the risks of methylmercury poisoning and letting it become the controlling fear factor that kills the good news about seafood consumption. Now is the appropriate time for the FDA to modernize its seafood consumption guidelines and to once and for all eliminate this methylmercury fear. This is especially relevant going forward as we enter a new dynamic era of seafood production in which farm raised seafood that has negligible methylmercury concerns continues to increase its dominance in the American seafood diet.