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Pregnant women need to eat more fish, say FDA and EPA

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The government wants pregnant women to eat more fish. Yesterday the FDA and EPA issued new draft advice that urges pregnant and breastfeeding women to eat at least eight to twelve ounces of fish a week.

The update comes 10 years after the last recommendation, which didn't specify a minimum.

The FDA is worried that fears over mercury levels in seafood have kept many pregnant women from getting enough of the nutritional value needed for their babies.

Dr. Steven Ostroff is the FDA’s acting chief scientist. He said the minimum of eight ounces a week shouldn't worry consumers.

“I can assure you that amongst the most popular types of fish, the vast majority are lower in the levels of methymercury, and as part of a healthy diet and in the amounts that are being recommended in this advice, should pose no concern,” said Dr. Ostroff. 

But there are advocacy groups who want to see the FDA take it a step further by labeling the mercury content of seafood products sold commercially. Sarah Klein is a food safety attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“For the vast majority of consumers who are going to the grocery store, whether it’s a week from now, a month from now, or a year from now, they’re bombarded with so much information that there’s no way that they can be expected to remember the various mercury content of the different types of seafood,” she said.

The draft advice is now open to the public for comment.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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