FDA releases updated advice on fish consumption


The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released up-to-date advice on fish consumption which incorporates the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), 2020-2025. Performed in coordination with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this update revises the advisory that was last published in 2019. In the advisory, we use “fish” to refer to the both fish and shellfish.

The nutrients in fish can support the development of a child’s brain and immune system. We recommend eating fish as part of a healthy dietand we encourage children and people who are or may become pregnant or breastfeeding to eat low-mercury fish. Our tips can help them choose what fish to eat and how much to eat based on mercury.

We continue to recommend for children and people who are or may become pregnant or breastfeeding eat a variety of fish from our “Top Picks” category, because they contain less mercury. With so many choices of fish, our advice helps people make choices that are right for them. Canned, frozen and fresh fish all count and offer affordable and convenient options.

What’s new

For parents, caregivers, and people who are or could become pregnant or breastfeeding, our tips can help them choose what fish to eat or serve to their children and how much to eat based on mercury. The updated advisory includes new information explaining that:

  • 1-year-olds can eat about 1 ounce of fish twice a week (from the “best picks” list).
  • Consumption of fish during pregnancy is recommended as moderate scientific evidence shows that it may help your baby’s cognitive development.
  • Fish provides essential nutrients that children need for the development of their brains, immune systems and spinal cords. Omega-3 and Omega-6 nutrients, iron, iodine and choline support brain development. Choline also supports the development of the baby’s spinal cord. Iron and zinc support the immune system of children.
  • Strong evidence shows that eating fish as part of a healthy diet can improve your heart health. Moderate scientific evidence shows that a healthy diet that includes fish is associated with a reduced risk of being overweight or obese and the risk of hip fractures, colon cancer and rectal cancer.

We also have new infographics for consumers to use.

What stayed the same

Our general advice on fish consumption has not changed. The appearance has changed because we made it easier to navigate. We have not added or removed any type of fish listed on our map. We have not changed how we categorize the different types of fish on the chart, although we have noted a subset of the “Top Picks” fish listed in the DGA that are even lower in mercury. This subset can help government and other food programs that feed children provide the amounts of fish recommended in the DGA while following our tips for limiting mercury.

We also haven’t changed the recommended portions or portion sizes. We recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding people eat fish 2-3 times per week (for a total of 8-12 ounces) and specify that children should eat fish 2 times per week (for a total of 2-8 ounces , by age) from the “Top picks” category in the table.

Coming

Under the FDA closer to zero action plan, our plan is to assess current research on mercury in foods, including fish, consumed by babies and young children, starting in 2022. As we assess these food sources , we will look more holistically at the role of fish in the diet, considering both harmful (like mercury) and beneficial (like nutrients) components and assessing their respective and interacting roles in the development of fish. ‘child. Our goal is to have the most up-to-date understanding of the science on fish consumption in an overall dietary context, which will help us determine if and how to update our fish advice in the future.

Further information

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