Friday, 3rd July 2020

This Month's Magazine
Should we stop eating fish

Should we stop eating fish

Seriously. It is time to control industrial waste.

Foodstuffs can become contaminated with certain chemicals present in the environment as for instance mercury and even arsenic normally used in certain industrial processes. According with the Spanish onsumers
Association the levels detected in a recent survey are not a worry and the consumer does not run a risk as long as the dose absorbed is not exceeded.

It is the presence of mercury in various types of fish that makes food safety watchdogs ring their bells. The most sensitive consumers (children & pregnant women) are advised to limit the consumption of certain kinds of fish, but they should not eliminate them completely.

The Food Safety Agency (AESAN) has detected the presence of mercury in different varieties of fish. Mercury is a heavy metal that can be very toxic; it is naturally present in the ground, in water, plants and animal organisms, but the real threat comes from the large amount of industrial waste released in the environment by mankind. The residue of such waste passes on to the fish food chain and the larger, the more predatory the fish the greater is the accumulation of the toxic material.

The level of mercury toxicity depends on the chemical form in which it is found because some of the components of mercury are more toxic tan the metal itself. According to The World Health Organisation, methylmercury is one of the 6 chemicals most present in the environment.

Mercury can induce some toxic effects on the system and on certain organs such as the nervous system, kidneys, reproductive organs however the greatest risk is in neurotoxicity of the nervous system. The presence of mercury in fish is a real problem. The Italian Consumers Association has carried out a recent research concluding that 20% of all samples analyzed exceeded the acceptable limits of mercury. As a result the European Commission and the members States agreed that it is now necessary to make certain recommendations with regards to the consumption of fish especially for consumers most susceptible to this metal.



Fish is an absolute necessity to maintain a balanced diet. A diet that comprises fish and seafood contributes to maintain a level of cardiovascular health; furthermore it is good for children’s growth because it provides some proteins of high biological value, vitamins A, D & B12 plus iodine and selenium. It is indisputable that fish is indispensable to our diet, the answer lies in alternating the type of fish we eat; of course those who are more at risk should be sensible enough and avoid eating certain fish.

  • Choose a fish that is less prone to mercury exposure, in particular those that are small and non predatory fish.
  • Normal healthy adults should not eat predatory fish more than once a week; fish like tuna, sword fish, linguee, pike, panga fish all of which may contain dangerous levels of mercury.
  • It is important to alternate with other less contaminable types of fish as for instance: sardines, salmon, sea bass, trout, bream, sole.
  • Pregnant or about to become pregnant women and children are advised not to eat the large types of fish as mentioned above.

OCU the Spanish Consumers Association report on a research of their own in respect of tinned tuna in vegetal oil provided by different brands available in supermarkets and found that the contents of mercury are
much below the legal maximum established by the E.U., which is 1 part per million.

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