2017 EPA-FDA Fish Consumption Advisory for Pregnant Women, Breastfeeding Mothers, and Parents

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Editor’s note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January, 2017 issued a fish consumption advisory that gives pregnant women and parents some ideas about what fish pregnant women and children can eat and how often they can eat.

It should also be noted that some fish from local waters may not be safe to eat. States often have their own advisory on the safety of fish from local waters. Some fish are contaminated with toxic metals like lead and mercury and toxic chemicals like pesticides and environmental pollutants.

The FDA-EPA fish consumption advisory is intended to draw attention from pregnant women, nursing women, the elderly, children and high consumers of fish who are considered at risk when they eat fish that is highly contaminated with pollutants like mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlordane, dioxins, dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT).  Eating pathogen-contaminated fish can also raise health risk.

The EPA provides more information about the fish consumption advisory and some background information regarding the contaminants in fish.

FDA/EPA Fish Consumption Advisory About Eating Fish – What Pregnant Women & Parents Should Know

THIS ADVICE REFERS TO FISH AND SHELLFISH COLLECTIVELY AS “FISH.” / ADVICE UPDATED JANUARY 2017

FDA and EPA have issued a fish consumption advisory regarding eating fish. This advisory is geared toward helping women who are pregnant or may become pregnant – as well as breastfeeding mothers and parents of young children – make informed choices when it comes to fish that is healthy and safe to eat.

The advice includes a chart that makes it easier than ever to choose dozens of healthy and safe options, and a set of frequently asked questions & answers.

Learn more about this initiative in the Press Release and the Federal Register Notice Announcing the Fish Consumption Advisory.

For women of childbearing age (about 16-49 years old), especially pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for parents and caregivers of young children.

Eat 2 to 3 servings of fish a week from the “Best Choices” list OR 1 serving from the “Good Choices” list.

Eat a variety of fish.
Serve 1 to 2 servings of fish a week to children, starting at age 2.
If you eat fish caught by family or friends, check for fish advisories.
If there is no advisory, eat only one serving and no other fish that week.*

Use this chart!

Chart starts here (the original chart is a PDF file and presented here is the text from that file)

You can use this chart to help you choose which fish to eat, and how often to eat them, based on their mercury levels. The “Best Choices” have the lowest levels of mercury.

(FDA categorizes fish into three types – best choices, good choices and choices to avoid)

What is a serving?

To find out, use the palm of your hand!
For an adult, it is 4 ounces
For children, ages 4 to 7, it is 2 ounces
Best Choices EAT 2 TO 3 SERVINGS A WEEK Good Choices EAT 1 SERVING A WEEK

Fish and other protein-rich foods have nutrients that can help your child’s growth and development.

Best Choices EAT 2 TO 3 SERVINGS A WEEK

Anchovy, Atlantic croaker, Atlantic mackerel, Black sea bass, Butterfish, Catfish, Clam, Cod, Crab, Crawfish, Flounder, Haddock, Hake, Scallop, Shad, Shrimp, Skate, Smelt, Sole, Squid, Tilapia, Trout, freshwater, Tuna, canned light, (includes skipjack), Whitefish, Whiting, Herring,Lobster, American and spiny, Mullet, Oyster, Pacific chub, mackerel, Perch, freshwater, and ocean, Pickerel, Plaice, Pollock, Salmon, Sardine

Good Choices EAT 1 SERVING A WEEK

Bluefish,Buffalofish, Carp, Chilean sea bass, Patagonian toothfish, Grouper, Halibut, Mahi mahi, dolphinfish, Monkfish, Rockfish, Sablefish, Sheepshead, Snapper, Spanish mackerel,Striped bass (ocean), Tilefish (Atlantic Ocean),Tuna, albacore, white tuna, canned and fresh/frozen, Tuna, yellowfin, Weakfish/seatrout, White croaker, Pacific croaker

Choices to Avoid HIGHEST MERCURY LEVELS

King mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), Tuna, bigeye.

For common questions and answers regarding the fish consumption advisory, visit FDA.

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