July 18, 2019

FDA Revises 2017 Fish Advice For Pregnant Women, Young Children

The FDA is revising its 2017 fish advice for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children, given the worries about mercury in fish. Dr. Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement, “Fish and shellfish are an important part of a well-rounded diet. However, we know many consumers worry about mercury in fish and even choose to limit or avoid fish because of this concern. In fact, we have seen that women in the U.S. who are pregnant are consuming far less than the recommended amount of seafood.”

FDA Revises 2017 Fish Advice For Pregnant Women, Young Children

In 2017, the FDA released a reference chart to help consumers choose the types of fish to eat more or and less of because of their levels of mercury. The fish species are listed under Best Choices, Good Choices, and Choices to Avoid. The information in the chart hasn’t changed, but the advice released today expands information about the benefits of fish as part of a healthy diet.

This is based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and recommends that adults eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Fish has many nutrients that have important roles in growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood.

Fish provide protein, healthy omega-3 fats, more vitamin B12 and vitamin D than any other type of food, iron, and minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iodine. A serving size for an adult is 4 ounces. For children, a serving is 1 ounce at age 2 and increases with age to 4 ounces by age 11.

The fish that the agency says are lower in mercury are salmon, shrimp, pollock, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, and cod. Pregnant women and young children should avoid the commercial fish with the highest levels of mercury, which include king mackerel, orange roughy, marlin, shark, swordfish, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, and Bigeye tuna.


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