New consumption advisory suggests eating more fish

St. Paul (AP) ’Äî Minnesotans should eat more fish, the state
health department said last week in its annual advisory on
consuming fish from Minnesota waters.

The updated guidelines say it’Äôs fine for people who eat fish
from the state’Äôs lakes and rivers to have an extra meal or so a
month. The agency said it revised its recommendations slightly to
reflect the documented health benefits of eating more fish even if
they contain small amounts of pollutants such as mercury.

’ÄúAdditional data and a thorough analysis show that this slight
change will still be safe for people eating fish,’Äù said Pat
McCann, an environmental health researcher for the department and
coordinator of the fish consumption advisory.

McCann said people had been advised they could eat fish from a
once-a-week category or a once-a-month category, but not both. Now,
she said they can eat fish from the once-a-week category and the
once-a-month category.

For example, rather than limiting yourself to either a northern
pike meal once a week or a sauger meal once a month from Rainy
Lake, you now can eat both.

The change also applies to commercially bought fish such as
salmon and halibut. ’ÄúPeople can eat more fish overall of both
Minnesota-caught and purchased fish by following the new
guidelines,’Äù she said.

’ÄúWe really want to promote people eating more fish,’Äù McCann
added. ’ÄúIf you follow the guidelines, you should be able to enjoy
the benefits of eating fish, and not have to be concerned about the
adverse health effects.’Äù

Health experts have long advocated eating one to two meals of
fish a week. Fish are a good low-fat source of protein, and may
help protect against cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women and
women who might become pregnant also should eat fish because it
promotes eye and brain development in fetuses.

But many fish also contain harmful chemicals, which has prompted
the continually updated advisories since the mid-1980s to help
Minnesotans pick which fish to eat and determine how often they can
eat them safely.

The health department made several changes to the format for the
latest edition to make the guidelines easier to read. It also added
precautions for perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, a member of a
family of chemicals turning up in Minnesota fish that were formerly
manufactured by the 3M Co. PFOS joins mercury and polychlorinated
biphenyls as contaminants that can influence how much fish people
should eat.

Thirty-three lakes in the Twin Cities area and the Mississippi
and St. Croix rivers have been tested for it, and advisories have
been issued for 14 of the lakes and both rivers.

For the 14 metro lakes, at least one species of fish ’Äì usually
bluegills but also crappies and largemouth bass in some locations
’Äì should be eaten no more than once a month or once a week,
depending upon whether the consumer is an adult, child, or
expecting a child.

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