many authoritative groups including levels recommended by the American Heart Association for cardiovascular disease prevention.

  1. Average quantities of EPA and DHA consumed by the general US population, and by several specific population groups, are also below levels recommended by many authoritative groups.

  2. For many ethnic and geographic subgroups, there are insufficient data to characterize the intake levels of seafood, EPA, DHA, and other dietary constituents, and to assess the variability of those intakes.

  3. Chicken and eggs, although not particularly rich sources, have contributed over 10 percent of the EPA and about 25 percent of the DHA in the US diet in recent years because of their frequent consumption. However, changes in feeding practices may be making these contributions negligible. New forthcoming data on chicken and eggs show most nutrient levels comparable to earlier samples, but EPA/DHA levels as undetectable.

  4. Shrimp and tuna are the two most commonly consumed types of seafood in the United States. Shrimp and canned/packaged light tuna—the major type of tuna consumed—are not especially rich in EPA and DHA; nor are they especially high in mercury. However, albacore (white) tuna, a good source of EPA/DHA, can be higher in mercury than other tuna.

  5. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish—the four types of seafood identified in the FDA/US EPA joint advisory as being most highly contaminated with mercury—are not among the types of seafood most frequently consumed in the United States, and supply trends suggest their future availability will be increasingly limited.

  6. Forces such as consumer trends, increasing dependence on aquaculture, and increased imports are influencing the availability of many popular seafood selections.


Recommendation 1: Research is needed on systematic surveillance studies of targeted subpopulations. Such studies should be carried out using state-of-the-art assessment methods to determine the intake levels of seafood, EPA/DHA and other dietary constituents, and the variability of those intake levels among population groups.

Recommendation 2: Sufficiently large analytic samples of the most common seafood types need to be obtained and examined. These samples should be used to determine the levels of nutrients, toxicants, and contaminants in each species and the variability between them, which should be reported transparently.

Recommendation 3: Additional data is needed to assess benefits and risks associated with seafood consumption within the same population or population subgroup.

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