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FDA posts more data on mercury in seafood

FDA posts more data on mercury in seafood

Just weeks after mercury levels in popular species of seafood made national headlines, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has posted new data listing the mercury levels in commercial fish.

"It wasn't linked to the articles in the Chicago paper," an FDA spokesman said. "In 2004 we stated we were going to continue to conduct sampling for levels of mercury present [in seafood]," he said. "What got posted were the results of the 2004 [field] assignments."

The Chicago Tribune ran a series of articles in mid-December that revealed toxic levels of mercury in seafood for sale in every store tested in the Chicago area. Of particular concern was the level of mercury in canned light tuna, which the FDA has recommended for years as a safe option for those concerned about mercury, but which the Tribune said posed significant danger.

The FDA's results showed canned light tuna to have a mean level of 0.12 parts per million of mercury. The FDA's safety limit is 1.00 ppm. The FDA's findings are posted in tables at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html .

The FDA spokesman said the agency would continue sampling seafood, including canned tuna, with an emphasis on those species for which it has relatively little data. In addition, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would revise its new food pyramid to reflect the high-mercury warnings for swordfish, mackerel and tuna, which the pyramid recommends.

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