Not all food scares are created equal. [“Diet detective: Food scares you need to worry about,” March 26] While people have actually died from E.coli food poisoning, there’s no credible evidence that any Americans have suffered mercury poisoning from eating fish.
At a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, scientists from the University of Rochester announced new findings among island-dwellers who eat ten times as much fish as Americans. While their mercury levels are somewhat elevated, it hasn’t affected their health one bit.
Our federal government’s “exposure level of concern” for mercury has a built-in safety factor of 1,000 percent, but even some experts mistake it for a real harm threshold. A piece of fish would have to exceed this level ten times over before it could be considered unsafe to eat. By its own reckoning, the FDA has never found fish that tested anywhere near this high.
The odds of the fish we eat being a health hazard are ridiculously low. Fish is still the “brain food” our mothers encouraged us to eat. But needless anxiety may indeed be hazardous to your health.