Safety concerns with consuming fish

Cooked salmon on plate. grill salmon, broiled walleye, fresh catch ocean sunfish or a tasty cold tuna sandwich on toast, sound adept ? There are plenty of good reasons to eat fish : It ’ second high in protein, broken in fat, an excellent source of B-complex vitamins and trace minerals, and fat in healthful omega-3 fatty acid fatso acids .
But there are safety concerns that may make you think doubly about eating fish .

  • Is my fish contaminated with pollutants ?
  • What kind of fish ( and how a lot ) is safe for my family to eat ?

  • Is the “ fresh fish ” I buy actually fresh ?

Contaminants in fish

As function of a low-fat, heart-healthy diet, consumers are hearing the message to incorporate more pisces in their diets. Yet, reports question the safety of eating fish because of unacceptable levels of PCBs and the most toxic imprint of mercury, methyl mercury that builds up in pisces tissue .
PCBs and mercury are industrial pollutants that find their means into clean waters and oceans where they are absorbed by fish. boastfully predator fish at the top of the food chain, such as shark, swordfish and king mackerel, accumulate the most contaminants. These chemicals build up in fish and people over the course of a life .

Why are mercury and PCBs dangerous?

  • Mercury can damage your skittish arrangement and kidneys if it builds up in your body .
  • Symptoms of mercury poison : tickling, prickling or numbness in hands and feet or changes in vision. The body can eliminate mercury finally and many of the adverse effects can be reversed .
  • Young children, developing fetuses and breast-fed babies are at most risk. small amounts of mercury can damage a brain that is just starting to form or grow .
  • excessively a lot mercury may affect a child ’ mho behavior and lead to learning problems later in life .
  • Babies exposed to PCBs during pregnancy may have lower birth weight, reduced head size and delay physical development .

Pollutants in fresh-caught fish

Teenager holds up bass. In Minnesota, mercury, PCBs and dioxin frequently pollute lakes and rivers. You can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate learn, smell or taste mercury or PCBs in fish .
For safer newly catch pisces :

  • Release large fish and keep smaller pisces. They are safer and preference better .
  • perch and crappies are safer than walleye or northerly expressway .

See information on how much fish you can eat from your lake or river or contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 800-657-3908 .

Concerns with PCBs in farm-raised salmon

A study made headlines when it reported unacceptable levels of PCBs in fish feed given to farmed salmon. The study said that PCB levels in farm salmon, particularly those from Europe, were about seven times higher than in wild salmon. Yet, there is no official agreement that the amount of PCB ’ second in grow fish poses a health guess. Until more inquiry results are available, it is fair to eat grow salmon less frequently and eat barbarian pink-orange more frequently .
In the United States, most consumed farm salmon comes from Chile ( 56 percentage ), Canada ( 31 percentage ) and the U.S. ( 6 percentage ). farm fish can continue to be part of a healthy diet but researchers suggest consumers eat no more than two meals of farm pink-orange per week .
When choosing pink-orange :

  • Packaged salmon. Check for country of origin labeling for grow salmon. Choose fish from North or South american english water .
  • fresh salmon. Ask for the nation of lineage .
  • canned salmon is much harvested in the wild .

Concerns with mercury in tuna

The Federal Fish Advisory includes albacore tuna and tuna steaks in the list of pisces with high levels of mercury. Research found “ white ” canned, albacore tuna has three times the mercury levels as the “ light ” tuna. As a resultant role of these findings, Minnesota Department of Health advises one meal per week of canned “ light ” and one meal per calendar month for canned “ white ” tuna .
Five of the most normally eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned alight tuna, salmon, pollack and catfish .

Safety guidelines for minimizing contaminants

For most people, 2 meals of pisces per week is by and large considered optimum for balancing the health benefits and the health risk from contaminants in fish. But for women of child-bearing age and children historic period 15 or under, the guidelines are nonindulgent .
Choosing which fish to eat for those meals is authoritative to minimize exposure to mercury and other chemicals in fish .

Sensitive Population: Guidelines for pregnant women, women who could become pregnant and children under 15 years of age

Type of fish
How often can you eat it?

Purchased catfish (farm-raised), cod, herring, Atlantic mackerel, pollock,
salmon (farm raised or wild, Pacific and Atlantic not Great Lakes),
sardines, shellfish (crab, oysters, scallops, shrimp), tilapia, fish sticks and sandwiches
2 servings per week

Canned “light” tuna, halibut; Minnesota caught: sunfish, crappie,
yellow perch, bullhead, lake whitefish, lake herring
1 serving per week

Canned albacore tuna, Chilean seabass, grouper, marlin,
tuna steak or fillet; Minnesota caught: bass, catfish, walleye,
northern pike, lake trout, other Minnesota species
1 serving per month

Shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel;
Minnesota caught muskellunge
Do not eat

source : Minnesota Department of Health web site. safe Eating Guidelines .

  • Pregnant Women, Women Who Could Become Pregnant, and Children under Age 15

General Population: Guidelines for boys age 15 and over, men, and women not planning to become pregnant

Type of fish
How often can you eat it?

Minnesota caught trout, lake herring, lake whitefish, sunfish, crappie, yellow perch or bullhead
Unlimited amounts

Minnesota caught bass, catfish, northern pike, walleye and other Minnesota species
1 serving per week

Purchased shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel
1 serving per month

reservoir : Minnesota Department of Health web site. safe Eating Guidelines .

  • Men, Boys Age 15 and Over, and Women Not Planning to Become Pregnant


Catching your own fish

If you catch your own fish see fish for signs of disease or parasites. A healthy fish should have :

  • firm pulp with no signs of discoloration or toasting .
  • A mild fresh smell .
  • bright clear eyes .
  • crimson or pink gills .
  • Scales that are fast .

After you catch your fish, frisson and shop fish in crush ice. Ice is the key to fresh tasting pisces .

Buying fresh fish

Buy from sources you know and trust .

  • The commercialize should look and smell cleanse .
  • Employees follow beneficial dress and wear clean aprons.

  • Employees use gloves or something other than bare hands when touching fish .
  • Employees should know how fresh the fish is .
  • fish should be refrigerated or on ice .

clean pisces characteristics include :

  • Flesh “ springs back ” when you touch it .
  • Smells fresh and balmy, not fishy or ammonia-like .

After you buy your fish, keep fresh pisces cold. Bring a cool with frosting to bring the fish home .

Buying frozen fish

If you ’ ra buy freeze pisces :

  • package should be intact, not torn or crushed .
  • No sign of ice crystals. This means the fish was thawed and refrozen .
  • ” Fresh Frozen ” means the fish was frozen while fresh .
  • “ previously Frozen ” means was frozen fresh and thawed for retail sale .

Storing fish

  • Refrigerate or freeze fish deoxyadenosine monophosphate soon as you get home .
  • seat pisces box on a tray or container so it does not drip on other refrigerated food .
  • fish held at 40 degrees F or lower will have a shelf animation of up to 3 days .
  • freeze fish at zero F or lower .

Thawing frozen fish

  • Refrigerator : allow 1 day for 1-pound box .
  • Cold water : place the container with the fish in cold water until thawed ( 1-2 hours ) .
  • Microwave : Thaw the fish in a closed package, glass baking dish or loosely wrapped in wax paper. Set the oven on defrost. Allow 6-7 minutes for 1 pound of fillets, turn over after 3 minutes .
  • NEVER refreeze fish.

Safe cooking

To destroy harmful bacteria and parasites :

  • Cook to 145 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer .
  • Don ’ thymine eat raw fish unless its been frozen at zero degrees for 48 hours to destroy parasites .
    This includes :

    • lightly marinated or salted raw pisces recipes .
    • fish to be pickled. ( Fish could besides be simmered in the brine for 10 minutes ) .

To reduce chemicals like PCBs :

  • Remove skin and tailored adipose tissue .
  • Broil, broil or grillroom .
  • Poaching or french-fry reduces some chemicals .

Related resources

  • Minnesota Department of Health, Fish Consumption Guidance .


  • Addis, P., Minnesota Sea Grant Outreach. pisces oil and your health .
  • American Institute for Cancer Research Newsletter, Fishing for Healthy Omega-3 Fats, Summer 2004, Issue 84 .
  • Driessen, Suzanne, University of Minnesota Extension. ( 2004 ). Beyond fish Sticks .
  • Driessen, Suzanne and Pitt, Jean, University of Minnesota Extension. ( 2004 ). current to Table .
  •, Clemson University Cooperative Extension. ( March 2012 ). Food Storage Chart .
  • Ingham, B., University of Wisconsin. ( February 2004 ). Food Facts for You .
  • Minnesota Department of Health. ( 2018 ). Choose fish, but choose wisely, health department says.

  • Minnesota Department of Health. ( 2018 ). A Family Guide to Eating Fish .

Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator ; Deb Botzek-Linn, former Extension educator ; William Schafer, emeritus Extension specialist ; Craig Hassel, Extension Nutritionist ; and Jeff Gunderson, former Sea Grant Extension affair Reviewed in 2020

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Category : Healthy