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The Washington Post reports this morning that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is at odds with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over how much fish it is safe for consumers to eat.

According to the story, FDA is out with a draft proposal that argues “the benefits of seafood outweigh the health risks and that most people should eat more fish, even if it contains mercury … (and) that nutrients in fish, including omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and other minerals could boost a child's IQ by three points. The greatest benefits, the FDA report said, would come from eating more than 12 ounces of fish a week, which is the current limit advised for pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children.”

EPA, on the other hand, reportedly is alarmed by the recommendation, criticizing the FDA conclusions as them as "scientifically flawed and inadequate" and “short of the scientific rigor routinely demonstrated by EPA." The current federal recommendations are that “certain groups -- women of childbearing years, pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children -- can be harmed by the mercury in fish and should limit their consumption.”

The Post also notes that the FDA was supposed to consult with the EPA before reaching its conclusions, but issued its draft report without any significant consultation.

The Post story also notes that EPA has the support of the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. "This is an astonishing, irresponsible document," said the group’s executive director, Richard Wiles. "It's a commentary on how low FDA has sunk as an agency. It was once a fierce protector of America's health, and now it's nothing more than a patsy for polluters."

KC's View:
Is it any wonder that consumers get confused?

It is a measure of how little credibility the FDA has that the immediate conclusion one comes to when reading the draft proposal is that someone in the seafood industry applied a little pressure, a little lobbying, a little money … and FDA filed the report that it thought was good for the industry, not for consumers. Which of course, makes no sense, because a mistake in this area that hurts consumers can only harm the seafood industry in the long run.