Saturday, December 13, 2008

FDA In An About-Face On Fish Recommendations, Days Before Bush Leaves Office

In March 2004, the EPA and the FDA came together to advise women and young children to limit their intake of fish and to avoid intake of certain fish altogether. Why? In their words:
"Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury." And high levels of mercury "may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system."
- What You Need To Know About Mercury In Fish And Shellfish, EPA and FDA, 2004
They recommended:
  • Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
  • Eat no more than 12 ounces a week of all seafood.
  • Restrict consumption of albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) however, has uncovered an FDA draft report which would completely reverse the above advice:1
"Documents just obtained by EWG show that officials of the FDA are secretly mounting an eleventh-hour drive to eliminate the 2004 warnings on mercury in fish, a move that would benefit the commercial fishing industry."
Interestingly, the EPA is against it:
"In a scathing memo dated December 5, Dr. Peter W. Preuss, director of the Office of Research and Development at EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) wrote that he and his colleagues had "very serious concerns about this document [the FDA report], which is scientifically flawed and inadequate in several aspects." "

" "It is not a product that [the EPA's] NCEA will endorse or approve as it does not reach the level of scientific rigor routinely demonstrated by EPA," Preuss wrote. He warned against releasing the FDA document or basing any policy decisions on its scientific assessment."
What was sage advice in 2004 is sage advice today, no matter how much the FDA wishes to distance itself from it.

What's going on with the FDA these days?
1 FDA's Midnight Mischief Heightens Mercury Risk To Pregnant Women, Infants

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