Testimony to the FDA on the Consumption of Fish

Canned fish
On November 3-4, 2014, the FDA's Risk Communication Advisory Committee discussed methods for effective risk communication with a focus on messages about the importance of eating adequate amounts of fish, while avoiding certain fish with higher amounts of methyl-mercury. These messages are especially important for women who are pregnant or nursing, or for anyone who prepares food for young children.

Dr. Aaron Bernstein, the Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, provided oral testimony to this hearing on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Bernstein's comments draw from research on the health benefits of fish—including the prevention of allergic disease and cognitive development—while also addressing the health and sustainability concerns regarding fish and shellfish.

He opens with a powerful message: "As a pediatrician with expertise in environmental health, I am well familiar with the anxieties that parents have about feeding their children fish, such as whether they will harm their children by exposing them to toxins that may be present in fish such as mercury, dioxins, and PCBs. I’m also aware, however, that eating fish in childhood may offer significant, and underappreciated benefits to children, especially in comparison to other sources of animal protein. On top of these health considerations, we must acknowledge that if we are to provide guidance on fish consumption, such guidance must recognize that wild fish stocks worldwide have been largely depleted because of unsustainable consumption."

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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