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Mercury levels in fish - here are the facts

BY DIONNE LISTER

For a number of years there has been concern about mercury levels in fish. Mercury is naturally occurring as methyl-mercury and will be present in most fish we consume. The danger comes from elevated levels of mercury in larger fish that is present due to industrial pollution. We are lucky in Australia as our fish are safe to eat, however there are still some guidelines for what fish to eat and how often.

Children up to six years old and pregnant women or women planning to fall pregnant should limit their intake of fish to two to three serves per week with one serve for children being 75 grams and one serve for women being 150 grams. Fish to eat include canned tuna, salmon, bream, octopus, prawns and whiting. A more comprehensive list of fish to eat can be found on the NSW government website. 

Fish with higher levels of mercury that should be eaten only once a fortnight by the above group are the larger fish such as shark (flake), marlin or swordfish. The rest of us can eat more but it is still wise to limit intake of the larger varieties, and consult the Sustainable Seafood guide to ensure you are eating seafood that is plentiful and not overfished.

Fish is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, mineral, iodine, vitamin B12 and protein and low in saturated fat, so they are a good inclusion in any diet. I hope that has eased any fears about mercury in our seafood. Bon appetite!

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