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Eat fish only twice a week

Food safety watchdog warns of risk of toxic contamination and issues particular warning for pregnant women and children

7 July 2013

FISH should not be eaten more than twice a week, says the official government food safety agency, Anses, which says there is a risk of toxic contamination above this level.

The agency said that fish, particularly freshwater fish, accumulated toxic waste products such as dioxins, mercury and PCBs in their flesh and this could outweigh their other beneficial effects, such as the Omega 3 oils they also contain.

Anses said people should vary the types of fish eaten as well and said the weekly choice should include an oily fish, such as salmon, smoked trout, sardine, mackerel or herring.

However, it also warned that pregnant women and young children should avoid freshwater fish and some other species. It said that PCBs, especially, could be extremely harmful for the unborn baby and young children. Freshwater fish should only be eaten twice a month for the wider population – but only once every two months for all females and for all under-threes.

Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers were also advised to limit consumption of predator fish such as monkfish, seabass, tuna, eel, pike and halibut – but also to avoid swordfish, marlin and shark because of “risks linked to mercury”.

Sushi-lovers in the at-risk groups and others with auto-immune deficiencies should also freeze the fish for at least seven days to kill off any parasites potentially present.
Photo: Saumon-de-france

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