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Complete Consumer's_Guide.jpgA Consumer's Guide to Wisconsin Farm-Raised Fish

IV. The Safety of Eating Wisconsin Farm-raised Fish

A. Contaminants of Concern
B. Consumer Consumption Advisories for Fish

C. How can Wisconsin Farm-raised Fish Help Reduce Your Risk of Exposure to Contaminants?

D. Food Safety and Food Fish Processing 

IV. The Safety of Eating Wisconsin Farm-raised Fish 


Many organizations have identified fish as an important part of a balanced diet.  However, there have also been concerns raised about the safety of eating some types of fish. This can sometimes create confusion for consumers. Like any food product, food concerns can arise through potential contaminants or improper food processing and handling.  Good aquaculture and fish processing practices can reduce these risks.  Fish is a good, healthy food and you should be able to eat fish without concern and without hesitation.

 

To eat fish or not is an individual choice, and only you can make that decision for yourself. The goal of this document is to provide resources to you, so you can make the informed decision that is best for you and your family.


 

A. Contaminants of Concern

Mercury and PCBs are the contaminants of greatest concern in fish prompting recommendations that people limit or avoid eating certain species of fish from many waters throughout the nation. To reduce your exposure to these contaminants, Wisconsin DNR provides advice about wild caught fish to help you choose what fish and how much fish to eat. This information is not intended to discourage you from eating fish, but should be used as a guide to eating fish low in contaminants. (1)

 

(Please note: These two contaminants are typically related to the consumption of wild caught fish. Based on testing conducted, there are no suggested restrictions of Wisconsin, farm-raised fish for men, women or children.)

 

1. Mercury (2)

 

Mercury is a naturally-occurring heavy, silvery-white metal often used in thermometers, barometers, electrical switches, thermostats, energy saving light bulbs, and in dental fillings. Mercury is released into the environment when power plants burn coal, from some chemical manufacturing plants and incinerators, and when mercury containing products are not disposed of properly. When mercury is released into the air, it can travel long distances and be deposited on land and directly into water. Mercury is changed to a form of organic mercury (methylmercury), which can build up in fish. Mercury can reach higher concentrations in older, larger and predatory (fish that eat other fish) fish.

 

2. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (3)


PCBs are a group of man-made chemicals used in a variety of industries. From 1929 to 1977 PCBs were manufactured in the United States and widely used in electrical equipment and other industrial uses. Manufacture of PCBs was banned in the US in 1977. Because they take a long time to breakdown in the environment, PCBs cling to lake and river bottom sediments and can build up in the fatty tissues of fish and animals. PCBs can reach higher concentrations in older, larger, fattier species of fish, like carp and great lakes trout and salmon.

 


B. Consumer Consumption Advisories for Fish

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) have developed consumption advisories for fish.  It is important to remember that these advisories are primarily directed toward the consumption of wild caught fish.

 

Based on testing conducted, there are no suggested restrictions on the consumption of Wisconsin, farm-raised fish for men, women or children.

 

The fundamental goal of the fish consumption advisory is to keep dietary mercury ingestion on average below 0.1 µg mercury per kg body weight per day. (4)

 

Fish consumption advisories are based on several primary components:

 

  • The US EPA reference dose (RfD) – This is an estimate, based on human studies, of a daily methylmercury exposure to people that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of detrimental health effects during a lifetime.  The current RfD for methylmercury is 0.1 µg/kg/day.
  • Meal frequencies.
  • Testing protocols for fish sampled from wild fish populations.  Since the 1970s, the State of Wisconsin has conducted fish sampling from waters suspected of or susceptible to contamination, popular angling waters or other lakes or steams that are being monitored for changes over time.

 

 

For details about the consumption advisories, please see:

 

·        FDA/EPA Consumer Advisory on Methylmercury in Fish (5), or

·        Wisconsin DNR “Fish Consumption Advisories.”(1)

 

 

The DNR's current fish consumption advisories are also available in http://www.wistatedocuments.org/cdm/ref/collection/p267601coll4/id/5452 . (6)

 


C. How can you reduce your risk of exposure to contaminants? How can Wisconsin Farm-raised fish help?

 

           1. Educate yourself about the fish consumption advisories.  Know what they mean and follow them for wild caught fish or when     you are in doubt.

 

           2. Know where your fish comes from.


A.    Avoid or limit eating fish from waters with elevated levels of contaminants.

  • Many farms use wells or springs to provide water for their aquaculture systems. These sources are typically low in contaminants and monitored similar to the wells that provide your drinking water.
  • Fish farms regularly remove wastes from the aquaculture systems so external contaminants cannot accumulate as rapidly.

B.     Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin aquaculture operates under some of the most stringent standards and regulations in the world.

 

       3. Avoid eating fish that are more likely to have higher levels of contaminants:


A.    Avoid or limit Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish

Note:  NONE of these are Wisconsin aquaculture species.


B.     Avoid or limit larger, older, or predatory fish

·        Farm-raised food fish are processed at a preferred uniform size.

·        Overly large, trophy fish are not necessarily desired in an aquaculture facility.

·        Food fish are processed at a younger age – just as they reach adulthood.

·        Most farm-raised food fish are fed pelleted feed which is regulated and low in contaminants.


C.     Eat farm-raised fish that are more likely to have lower levels of contaminants:

 

       4. Best select, handle and prepare the fish.(5)

 


D. Food Safety and Food Fish Processing

Fish processing must comply with Wisconsin Administrative Code ATCP 70 which includes a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan.  These regulations are administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Division of Food Safety.

 

 

 

A Consumer‟s Guide for Wisconsin Farm-Raised Fish

Section 4

 

Read On To Section V. Benefits of Local Fish- Why Wisconsin Fish?...



Resources

 
Wisconsin Aquaculture Association (WAA):
 
University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point – Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (NADF):
http://aquaculture.uwsp.edu
 
The National Aquaculture Association (NAA)
 
 
 

Superscript References

 

(1)Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fish Consumption Advisories” [Online] Available (2010) http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/consumption/


 

(2)Wisconsin Department of Health Services (Fact sheet) Information on Toxic Chemicals Mercury” [Online] Available (2010). http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/ChemFS/fs/Mercury.htm

 

(3)Wisconsin Department of Health Services (Fact sheet) “PCBs and Your Health” [Online] Available (2010).  http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/hlthhaz/fs/PCBlink.HTM#Fact Sheets

 

(4)Great Lakes Consortium “A Protocol for Mercury-based Fish Consumption Advice An addendum to the 1993 Protocol for a Uniform Great Lakes Sport Fish Consumption Advisory‟ May, 2007. [Online] Available (2010)

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/fish/consortium/pastprojects/mercuryprot.pdf


(5)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Factsheet  “Consumption Advice: Joint Federal Advisory for Mercury in Fish” [Online] Available (2010). http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/outreach/factsheet.cfm

 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration - News Release FDA and EPA Announce the Revised Consumer Advisory on Methylmercury in Fish” March 19, 2004. [Online] Available (2010). http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2004/ucm108267.htm

 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Brochure “What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish” March, 2004. [Online] Available (2010).

http://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/buystoreservesafefood/ucm110591.htm

(6)Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Choose Wisely: A Health Guide for Eating Fish in Wisconsin”  2010. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/fishadvisoryweb2012low.pdf

 

Other References

 

American Heart Association. “Fish 101.[Online] Available 2010.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Fish-101_UCM_305986_Article.jsp


 

American Heart Association. “Frequently Asked Questions About Fish.[Online] Available 2010.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-

Fish_UCM_306451_Article.jsp

 

National Academy of Sciences, Nesheim, Malden C. and Yaktine, Ann L., ed. “Seafood Choices:

Balancing Benefits and Risks.” Washington D.C.: National Academies Press, 2007.

“Free Executive Summary.[Online] Available (2010).

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11762

 

“Report Brief.” [Online] Available (2010). http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2006/Seafood-Choices-Balancing-Benefits- and-Risks/11762_SeafoodChoicesReportBrief.ashx

 

“Fact Sheet.” [Online] Available (2010). http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2006/Seafood-Choices-Balancing-Benefits- and-Risks/11762_SeafoodChoicesFactSheet.pdf

 

JAMA. The Journal of the American Medical Association. Torpy, Janet M. MD; Glass, Richard M. MD ed. “Eating Fish:  Health Benefits and Risks.” JAMA Patient Page 2006; 296(15):1926. [Online] Available (2010). http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/296/15/1926

 

JAMA. The Journal of the American Medical Association. Mozaffarian, Dariush MD DrPH and Rimm, Eric B. ScD. “Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health.” 2006; 296:1885-1899. [Online] Available (2010).  http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/296/15/1885

 

Wisconsin Department of Health Services “Eating Safe Fish” [Online] Available (2010).

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/beaches/safe-fish.htm

 

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Brochure. “A Family Guide to Eating Fish” [Online] Available (2010).  https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p4/p44031b.pdf

 

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (Brochure) “A Guide to Eating Fish for Older Adults ” [Online] Available (2010).

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p4/p45111.pdf


Great Lakes Fish Advisory Workgroup “A Protocol for Mercury-based Fish Consumption Advice.” May, 2007.  [Online] Available (2010).

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/fish/consortium/pastprojects/mercuryprot.pdf


Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Choose Wisely – A Health Guide for Eating Fish in Wisconsin.” PUB-FH-824-2010.  [Online] Available (2010). http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/fishadvisoryweb2012low.pdf

 

Pelej, Jennifer Limiting the hitch in the day‟s catch” Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, (June 2001)  http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/wnrmag/html/stories/2001/jun01/mercury.htm

 

Hurley, James and Binkowski, Fred “Mercury, Fish, and Aquaculture University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute (Dec. 2006) [Online] Available (2010).

http://aqua.wisc.edu/publications/PDFs/Aquaculture_Mercury.pdf

 

 

Developed and compiled by:

Wisconsin Aquaculture Association

UW Stevens Point – Northern Aquaculture Demonstration

Facility

UW-Extension Aquaculture Outreach

And the

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and

Consumer Protection

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