FDA taking another look at mercury levels in seafood

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg listens to a question during a newsmaker interview at the Associated Press in Washington, Friday, May 30, 2014. Hamburg said the agency will soon advise consumers on the appropriate levels of mercury in seafood. In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Hamburg said the agency does not plan to require labels, as requested by consumer groups, but will issue guidance on how much mercury can be present in different kinds of products. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg listens to a question during a newsmaker interview at the Associated Press in Washington, Friday, May 30, 2014. Hamburg said the agency will soon advise consumers on the appropriate levels of mercury in seafood. In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Hamburg said the agency does not plan to require labels, as requested by consumer groups, but will issue guidance on how much mercury can be present in different kinds of products. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Food and Drug Administration says new guidelines are coming about mercury in seafood but they’ll be an advisory, not a mandate.

Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says the agency is not planning to require food labels, but it will be updating its guidance on mercury in different varieties of seafood and what that means to pregnant women.

It’s seen as a long-awaited move aimed at helping women better understand what to eat when they’re pregnant.

Eating fish is part of a heart-healthy diet, but fish also can absorb small amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin.

For most people, it’s not a health risk. But the FDA has warned that pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, and young children avoid certain types of high-mercury fish because of concern that too much could harm a developing brain.

Consumer groups have complained the warnings aren’t clear enough.

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