in seafood and other foods (e.g., polybrominated diphenyl ethers and other persistent organic pollutants), although inadequate data on exposure, toxicities, or both make it difficult to define the dimensions of the potential risks.

  1. Consumers are exposed to a complex mixture of dietary and non-dietary contaminants whereas most studies of the risks associated with seafood focus on a single contaminant. The extent to which such co-exposures might affect the toxicity of seafoodborne contaminants is largely unknown. Similarly, few data are available on the extent to which beneficial components of seafood, such as selenium and omega-3 fatty acids, might mitigate the risks associated with seafoodborne contaminants.

  2. Reported seafoodborne illnesses indicate acute hazards are not increasing, but certain hazards associated with specific species and consumer preference (e.g., eating raw molluscan shellfish) persist.

  3. Increased dependence on aquacultured and imported products is raising concerns for certain potential hazards.

    1. Use of illegal chemotherapeutants in certain aquaculture operations.

    2. Various microbial and chemical contaminants in products subject to limited regulatory surveillance.


Recommendation 1: Appropriate federal agencies (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], the US Environmental Protection Agency [US EPA], and the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] of the US Department of Health and Human Services) should increase monitoring of methylmercury and persistent organic pollutants in seafood and make the resulting information readily available to the general public. Along with this information, these agencies should develop better recommendations to the public about levels of pollutants that may present a risk to specific population subgroups.

Recommendation 2: Changes in the seafood supply (sources and types of seafood) must be accounted for—there is inconsistency in sampling and analysis methodology used for nutrient and contaminants data that are published by state and federal agencies. Analytical data is not consistently revised, with separate data values presented for wild-caught, domestic, and imported products.

Research Recommendations

Recommendation 12: More complete data are needed on the distribution of contaminant levels among types of fish. This information should be

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