Finally…. Government Opinions Catching Up with the Science25 Aug 2014
It was a good month for omega-3s last month when the European Food Safety Authority published its “Scientific Opinion on health benefits of seafood (fish and shellfish) consumption in relation to health risks associated with exposure to methylmercury” recommending that children and adults should try to consume at least two servings of seafood per week. […]
It was a good month for omega-3s last month when the European Food Safety Authority published its “Scientific Opinion on health benefits of seafood (fish and shellfish) consumption in relation to health risks associated with exposure to methylmercury” recommending that children and adults should try to consume at least two servings of seafood per week. This report comes on the heels of a similar recommendation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency in June (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm393070.htm).
The EFSA opinion stated:
“Consumption of about 1-2 servings of seafood per week and up to 3-4 servings per week during pregnancy has been associated with better functional outcomes of neurodevelopment in children compared to no seafood. Such amounts have also been associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in adults and are compatible with current intakes and recommendations in most of the European countries considered.”
“The observed health benefits of seafood consumption during pregnancy may depend on the maternal status with respect to nutrients with an established role in the development of the central nervous system of the foetus (e.g. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and iodine) and on the contribution of seafood (relative to other food sources) to meet the requirements of such nutrients during pregnancy. The health benefits of seafood consumption in reducing the risk of CHD mortality are probably owing to the content of n-3 LCPUFA in seafood.”
GOED is very happy to see these revised recommendations, as there is evidence that many consumers worldwide do not consume enough omega-3s (see graph below). And every government that has assessed mercury exposure as it relates to seafood has concluded that the benefits, a large portion of which are derived from EPA and DHA consumption, outweigh the risks associated with mercury exposure. Those risks can be further mitigated by consuming a variety of seafood (rather than the same thing every day) and/or consciously choosing species that are low in mercury contamination. This is important because consumers in many developed countries have slowly started to consume less fish as a result of the fears raised by governments and NGOs in the past and the public health impacts are potentially severe going forward.
As a matter of fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Health Economics (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24992390) shows that in the U.S., the FDA’s old seafood advisory has caused a net loss of welfare to society because consumers have started to decrease their consumption of omega-3s and the losses from that outweighed the benefits of consuming less mercury.
Let’s hope the word gets out to consumers everywhere about the importance of EPA and DHA omega-3s.
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