Seafood Council forced to defend fish safety

Grilled fish with vegetables and sauce, on the grill

Is it safe to eat fish? The Norwegian Seafood Council says “yes”, despite suggestions that seafood may contain environmental toxins.

The Council was responding to recent newspaper reports that the Norwegian health interest group Miljøgifter og folkehelse (“Environmental toxins and public health”) has warned that there are potentially harmful chemicals in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel.

There are environmental toxins in all food, but the group, which includes doctors and scientists, believes that fish is the worst.

Their advice is that children in particular should not eat a lot of oily fish. This goes against a number of official recommendation to eat 300-450 grams of fish a week, of which 200 grams should be fatty fish.

The Seafood Council has responded by pointing out that in 2022, the Science Committee for Food and Environment (VKM)in Norway published a study, Fish in the Norwegian diet – benefit and risk assessment, which weighed up the health pros and cons of seafood.

The study concluded: The health benefits of increasing your intake of fish and eating two to three meals a week outweigh the risk of negative health effects from ingesting environmental toxins from fish. It applies to all age groups.”

The reason for this recommendation is that fish contains important nutrients. It is an important source of, among other things, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

However seafood consumption in Norway, especially among youngsters, has been on a downward trend for several years.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health does not recommend eating unlimited amounts of fish but says many people can benefit from increasing their intake at the expense of meat products.

The Directorate says most of the population eat far below the recommended amount of fish, turning to the likes of meat and cheese instead.

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