FDA this week published a draft assessment weighing the risks and benefits of fish consumption for children and the general population. The assessment considers the net health effects of fish consumption on fetal neurodevelopment, as well as fatal heart disease and stroke risk in the general population. FDA is seeking “to understand the relationship between the risk of not eating fish (and thus losing any health benefits fish may provide) and the risk of eating fish that contains methylmercury at the levels currently found in the commercial fish available to consumers.”

The draft concludes that in respect to neurodevelopment, maternal consumption of fish species low in methylmercury “has a significantly greater probability of resulting in a net benefit, as measured by verbal development.” Although results also indicated “a significant probability of a net adverse effect for one-tenth of one percent of children,” the FDA assessment finds that the highest net benefit and net adverse effect are “modest.” In addition, “[f]or fatal coronary heart disease and stroke, commercial fish baseline consumption is averting a
central estimate of over 30,000 deaths per year from coronary heart disease and over 20,000 deaths per year from stroke,” according to FDA. The agency will accept public comments on the draft until April 21, 2009. See Federal Register, January 21, 2009; InsideEPA.com, January 23, 2009.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.