Something Fishy: Latest Report on Safe Fish Consumption
Cindy Collins, PhD, RD
Raquel Rivera, SA
Fish is a protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to reduce inflammation. However the safety of your fish has of late been called into question. The latest report by Food & Water Watch indicates that “less than 2% of the 860,000 imported seafood shipments were visually inspected and less than 1% were actually tested for contaminants.” Below you will find a list of the top offenders and some healthy alternatives to keep your consumption of fish safe.
THE UNSAFE FISH LIST with SAFE ALTERNATIVES
• Imported & Farm-Raised Catfish, also known as Basa and Swam is usually imported from Vietnam. They do not regulate or monitor closely the use of antibiotics and other chemicals.
If you love catfish, try Pollock. This fish is similar in taste and is also low in mercury. Look for this mild-flavored fish imported from the US, Canada and Norway. These places all have eco-friendly harvesting for safer consumption.
• Eel (aka Unagi) is pen-farmed in China. The use of toxic nitrofuran, and othere drugs and pesticides are used to keep disease away in the pens. Eel is extremely high in mercury and cancer-causing PCBs.
If you fancy eel, experiment with squid. This fish has a comparable flavor and it is clean of contamination.
• Atlantic Flatfish which includes Sole, Flounder and Halibut – are high in toxins, have been overfished over time and has been attributed to the breakdown of Atlantic Ocean ecosystem.
If you enjoy any of these fish, check out Pacific Halibut which is considered to be an eco-friendly choice.
• Imported & Farm-Raised Shrimp – one of the most polluted types of seafood sold. Chemical residues, antibiotics and other contaminants have been found in farmed shrimp.
MSC-certified wild-caught Pacific shrimp from Oregon is the safest shrimp for consumption. According to The Healing Gourmet,70 percent of domestic shrimp comes from the Gulf of Mexico. The recent oil spill this raises concern for the health of these shrimp stocks. Even though you are playing it safe by staying away from farm raised shrimp, the location is still an important aspect to consider.
• Farmed Atlantic Salmon has many chemical contaminants ranging from pesticides and antibiotics to PCBs. These farmed fish are fed in overcrowded, disease- ridden pens. They are considered to be genetically engineered and unsafe due to the high levels of carcinogens they contain.
For a safer alternative, choose wild Alaskan Salmon only. In the near future, you may see a label on Farmed Atlantic Salmon- if the FDA approves the change.
• Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is considered to contain the “highest levels of mercury and have reached near-extinction levels,” according to NY Times. According to the Healing Gourmet, “Oceana – a non-profit ocean protection group – collected 1,215 samples from seafood vendors from 2010 to 2012. They found that 59% of tuna is not just mislabeled but it is almost entirely comprised of escolar – a fish once banned by the FDA.”
A safer alternative would be Atlantic mackerel and sardines. These fish do not contain problematic ingredients and are low in mercury.
For more information refer to www.healinggourmet.com