Tue, Nov 05, 2013 - Page 3 News List

COA minister Chen downplays mercury consumption risks

DEEP-SEA DANGER?Chen was responding to a study that found high mercury levels in consumers of deep-sea fish, causing delayed development in one child

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) yesterday said the public does not need to worry too much about the safety of consuming deep-sea fish just because a recent study indicated that some children had elevated mercury levels as a result of eating too much of such fish, but he said over-consumption of deep-sea fish should be avoided.

A recent study by Taipei Veterans General Hospital’s clinical toxicologist Wu Ming-ling (吳明玲) found that eating too much deep-sea fish over a long period of time may lead to increased levels of toxic mercury in the body.

Her study of 31 patients — including six children — who had high mercury levels in their blood and hair found that all were long-term frequent consumers of such fish.

The mercury level in the blood of a three-year-old girl who had delayed speech development exceeded the provisional tolerable weekly intake of total mercury suggested by the WHO — 0.005 parts per million — by 40 times because she had been fed deep sea fish at least twice a day since she was one year old.

“It [deep sea fish] is still edible, but all food has its tolerable upper intake level, so we cannot deem all food inedible just because of a certain case, or an individual [mercury poisoning] case of a child,” Chen told a meeting of the legislature’s Economic Committee.

“In my opinion, mercury residue levels do not differ according to the cooking methods, and I think it is still safe to eat large predatory saltwater fish, as long as we do not consume excessive amounts like the child,” he said in response to a legislator’s question about whether mercury exposure was limited to eating raw fish or was also a risk when eating cooked fish.

Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日曜) said deep sea fish have longer life spans so they tend to accumulate higher levels of mercury from the environment than other fish species, but it is still safe to eat them on a daily basis, as not too much is consumed.

This story has been viewed 858 times.
TOP top