84% of world’s fish not safe to eat more than once a month

A study finds that 84% of the world’s fish tested was not safe to eat more than once per month because of mercury poisoning. And 13% of the fish isn’t safe to eat, period. Though honestly, I’m not sure how happy I am eating something that’s so poisonous you can only eat one serving per month.

In the United States the number is better.  Though in the US the study only looked at one fish, Alaskan Halibut (which I’ve had, it’s yummy).  43% of Alaskan Halibut was only safe to eat once a month because of its mercury levels.

And in Japan and Uruguay, the study found that “Mercury concentrations in fish from sites in Japan and Uruguay were so high that no consumption is recommended.”

Fish via Shutterstock

Fish via Shutterstock

The study comes from the  Bioresearch Diversity Institute, and was released in January, but I’d missed it.  This chart shows the percent of fish tested in each country that is not safe to eat more than once per month. While in the US they only tested one fish, Alaskan Halibut, in other countries they tested 15-20 fish per country, I was told by Dr. David Evers of the Bioresearch Diversity Institute, one of those behind the study.

Percentage of fish in that country that can only safely be eaten once per month.

Percentage of fish in that country that can only safely be eaten once per month.

As the chart above shows, in Italy and Japan, 100% of the fish tested was only safe to eat once per month.

Evers pointed me to a handy chart they have up showing how much fish you can eat per month and safely avoid mercury poisoning – but keep in mind, this is just mercury.  You also have to research PCB limits on eating fish as well:

how much fish you can eat per month

Interestingly, the federal guidelines say to only eat two servings of salmon per week, whereas the chart says not to worry about it.

I have to say, the more I read about this kind of thing, the less I want to eat fish all together. If you have to check multiple tables to find out whether it’s even safe at all to eat fish, then why eat it? I get that it’s good for you (if it doesn’t kill you), but damn, this is the point we’ve come to – having to check tables in the grocery store to see if particular foods are going to eventually poison us.

Not to mention, what the hell are we doing to the world?

Here’s more on this from CBS:

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • realistic inhabitant of earth

    population control and the culling of the human trash that is a cancer on this planet is the “solution” we need to kill alot of people so the planet can revive humans are a parasite quite literally they take from the host and give nothing in return and are actually damaging to the host eventually causing death to the earth

  • kb

    not for all omega 3s

  • Christopher Dean

    what about the 50%+ of fish now farmed? does this still apply. Article is thin on substance,. and no reference so hard to check details…

  • Well, to mercury you now want to add plastic (PCBs) in fish. YOu’re heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, right? Not a good idea to eat fish that swim in that gyre. Plastic has an affinity for fat tissue, where it get stored in humans, and it is a hormone disruptor. Get your omega-3 from these two sources: DHA and EPA from algae. A good brand is Ovega-3. Get all your ALA from chia seeds or flax seeds. No need to take rish eating fish. For B-12, if you’re vegan take a pill. If you’re also concerned by lacking iodine, take a supplement too. It’s very cheap and safer than eating the polluted meat of a marine predator.

  • Annika

    Story was probably created by a large soy/ tofu foundation utilizing intelligent marketing efforts.

    Anyways, I just sat down and ate about a pound of nice Red Snapper fillets I caught off the ( eastern) coast of Florida. mmm mmm mmm! Also on point, Blackened ( not cajun ) Swordfish is amazing and Black Tip Shark is excellent too.

    Man has been eating animals for thousands of years and we are still here. And weaker, unfortunate beings are not.

    All you vegan tofu eatin’ ninnies need to get a life and your heads screwed back on straight. If a dolphin or marlin gets caught in the tuna nets, darn, more food for me.

    USA = A whole bunch of complainers

  • Ford Prefect


  • hollywoodstein

    today, tonight, today insomnia is a bitch.

  • hollywoodstein

    Ah yes, I remember it well.

  • loona_c

    When I lived there (oh so long ago!) they used plastic bags (tied with rubber bands with a straw in it) to serve the ubiquitous Thai coffee and tea drinks. Those bags were everywhere. A friend was in the British navy and he said every couple of hours they had to send a diver down to the British carrier (or whatever) parked in the Chao Pya River to get the plastic out of the moter mechanisms/air intake. And that was many years ago. Not to mention what really goes into the klongs.

  • lynchie

    Crack probably safer than eating fish.

  • lynchie

    Those are only from the Allegheny river in Pittsburgh. You forgot two headed fish.

  • Well, I must admit that some of the local families do look like Gulf shrimp.

  • I love to recall that whirl of mist in the Tolleries, the shadows, the early spring warmth. It cost me a diamond brooch and a sapphire hat pin, but it was worth drinking Champagne from a riding boot.

  • TuxedoCartman

    Because jokes about disasters that displaced tens of thousands, and may have poisoned tens of ours ands more, are hi-larious.

  • TuxedoCartman

    Perhaps pointing to length of life rather than quality was the wrong approach. But even still, if you look at overall quality of health in their country, they’re not exactly experiencing a wave of cancers or neurological problems of any kind, as far as I’m aware of. And I lived there until just last year. The only health problems that seem to have occupied the public concerned is the increasing rate of obesity, which is being blamed on (right or wrong) the increasing amount of fast food being eaten, like McDonald’s.

    Do I believe our oceans and waterways are dangerously polluted? Yes. Do I believe that we’ve overfished our oceans to the point of total ecosystem collapse? Oh gods yes. But I’m having a hard time believing the science that 84% of the world’s fish are unsafe to eat, when countries that make fish a primary part of their diet are still on average much healthier than we are. Something’s not adding up here, and my gut thinks this is an oogity-boogity scare story.

  • Solid State Max

    Leave the fish alone. Even for fish oil, could just go straight to flaxseed oil for your Omega 3s.

  • hollywoodstein

    Blue fin would make sense since they are top predators of baitfish, but this was found in the little guys.

  • hollywoodstein

    However, karmanot, do not egg Miss Woodstein on tonight. She is drinking more than usual today tonight,and is afraid of what might happen.

  • hollywoodstein

    Thank you, karmanot.

  • Indeed. I really figured human population would last for much longer but I think you’re being over optimistic with the 150-200 year range. My kids have none of their own. I really hope they don’t go that route.

  • hollywoodstein

    You were there that night too!?

  • hollywoodstein

    Try boquerones marinated in vinegar and oil. Excellent and safe too.

  • Ford Prefect

    Dammit. I go to the Central Coast appellations several times a year. Now I have to ask every wine maker I meet about this. One must wonder if that leeches into groundwater.

  • Ford Prefect

    Oh yeah. I’m thinking it was blue fin tuna. You are correct!

  • They make up for it by beiong short in stature.

  • And that’s just in the back marshes of Mississipp! God works in mysterious ways.

  • Dog knows Loona! In fact a hundred miles out to sea from Bangkok you can see huge islands of floating garbage.

  • Soy beings!

  • Here in grapeland and winery world ,Methylbromide, one of the most horrible neurotoxins in the world, is still used to kill all life forms one meter down in the soil to plant new vineyards. bon appetite!

  • It has been rumored that some evil survivalist has published a Donner Party cookbook.

  • For decades many of us have been reporting and writing about this to the derision of the rationalists and now here we are drowning in an end stage capitalist sewer. Thank dog i’m on the short side of 70ty I doubt I could make it much longer.

  • As more people die off it relieves the burden on Medicare and Social Security.

  • One can only imagine that all that polluted fish remains south of Santa Barbara, which does not allow unpleasantness north of Montecitto.

  • And paper bags without printing!

  • Monsanto Franken food for all!

  • Sounds like white Russians in Paris.

  • My kind of bad HS, my kind of bad. And, next time I see Jiro I’ll eat some Maguro and Uni in your honor!

  • Drew2u

    Because informed decisions lead to less purchases (of cheap crap).

  • loona_c

    TMI!!! LOL Right when the oil “spill” started it was clear BP was turning the Gulf into a cesspool. I went out to lunch right then and had my last Gulf oysters and shrimp. No more.

  • Drew2u

    “Red Tide!”

  • Bill_Perdue

    Ewwww. Soon we’ll be reduced to tofu. Ewwww.

  • hollywoodstein

    Well you gotta go from something. Although, I was planning on going from alcohol poisoning, not this.

  • hollywoodstein

    Plenty of front page stories in the sixties, seventies and eighties and nineties, how we should not worry about population Growth! since we can turn the ocean into a fish factory.

  • hollywoodstein

    An education.

  • My guess would be that it takes time to do its job; kinda like dieing from lung cancer after 60 years of chain smoking.

    And it took a while and thousands of coal-burning plants to pollute the oceans up to the levels we see today.

    So it ain’t necessarily the longevity of life but the quality that really counts.

    But, we also have evidence right here in the good ole US of A of what happens to those that consume too much mercury-laden seafood. To wit:


  • hollywoodstein


  • hollywoodstein

    The tests I am speaking of were by a private company. It’s in the fish.

  • hollywoodstein

    Wasn’t it amazing how they had it ready to go and sprayed such vast amounts in secret?

  • indep_in_la

    I sure hope you don’t work a suicide prevention hotline :-) I’m thinking more of the grow-my-own – where possible – and reduce the market purchases as much as possible.

    Yes, we’re poisoning our planet and ourselves – all in the name of profit.

  • Ya mean you have a problem with:

    Shrimp with tumors on their heads

    Shrimp with defects on their gills and “shells missing around their gills and head”

    Shrimp without eyes

    Shrimp with babies still attached to them

    Eyeless fish

    Fish without eye-sockets

    Fish without covers on their gills

    Fish with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills

    Crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one claw

    Crabs with holes in their shells

    Crabs with shells that have no spikes or claws or misshapen claws

    Crabs that are dying from within

  • Naja pallida

    Anyone who thought that fisheries alone would sustain world population growth was smoking from a giant crack pipe.

  • Naja pallida

    Except for the un-labeled genetically modified vegetables and fruits, that nobody has any real idea what will be the long term effect. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc, some of which too, like mercury, can build up in the human body over time and exposure causing increased detrimental effects. Then there’s the e.coli and salmonella in spinach, tomatoes, onions, and who knows what else, that have led to countless recalls over the last decade. The “free market” has been absolutely terrible for our food supply, and our overall health as a nation.

    Your better option would be to move to a country with real laws on food labeling, and actual food safety testing, and some kind of system of harvest sustainability. If such a place really exists.

  • Hey, hows about a big hand for all that clean coal we are burning.

    Keep this in mind every time ya see one of these misleading commercials.

    Anybody ever done a study that shows when the oceans will be pretty much devoid of life… period?

  • medium lebowski

    Or, “Pacific Waste Dump” “Atlantic Waste Dump.”

  • medium lebowski

    This might be a good eye opener. Just start calling them “The Atlantic Toilet” “The Pacific Toilet”, etc.

  • indep_in_la

    Becoming vegetarian is starting to look better all the time now.

  • Ford Prefect

    Bioaccumulation. That’s why I prepare a lot of smaller fish, especially sardines when I can get them.

  • Ford Prefect

    Yes, in the kelp off of Orange County, CA. But they’re not testing the fish and have refused to do so. Also worth noting is Obama’s pick to head EPA was in charge of all the atmospheric testing post-Fukushima, when 80% of the collectors went off-line and never came back on.

  • Ford Prefect

    Of course. It’s why I don’t eat anything from the Gulf anymore. Last year I went to the Outer Banks and I only went to restaurants that promise only local seafood–which is better than Gulf fish anyway. So write off Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and what else? Oh yeah, at some point, Hawaiian as well.

  • Ford Prefect

    Indeed. That greenish glow also doesn’t interfere with night vision!

  • My wife and I have had similar thoughts. But we feel bad for all our nieces and nephews, because they’re going to be among the first generations to truly experience the decline and fall of the human race.

  • Naja pallida

    Glad I don’t really drink milk, because aspartame gives me migraines. I just really don’t understand why consumers can’t be permitted to know what is in their food.

  • loona_c

    And I noticed Trader Joe’s fish all seemed to be labeled Product of Thailand. I lived in Bangkok for many years and I KNOW what’s in their waters. Ewww

  • loona_c

    And living along the Gulf of Mexico I’ve quit eating fish from that body of water because of the oil spill.

  • Sweetie

    Studies have recently found that fish oil isn’t healthy. It can even lead to oily blood. The body doesn’t absorb the beneficial omega-3 and ALA from fish oil capsules the way it absorbs it from fish.

  • Sweetie

    And don’t forget about the oil dispersant.

  • nicho

    Estimates are that we will have killed ourselves off in 150 to 200 years. But it won’t be sudden, and life will continue on the downward trajectory we’re already on. I am so glad I have no kids and therefore no grandkids. It’s not going to be pretty.

  • hoary_nodens

    Love it. Karma slowly catching up to the ravenous beast. It would be oh so perfect if the few fish humanity hasn’t already exterminated slowly poison us.

    Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause with 7 billion (and counting) people on the planet.

    Why do I keep harping on this? Because it is the ultimate taboo. Whatever you do, don’t mention the root of all the problems, the ULTIMATE cause.

    You can stare reality in the face or you can keep wondering why “everything” keeps getting worse. And don’t lecture me with “Well what is your solution then genius?”

    It’s not a problem to be solved, its a predicament, and there is no “solution”

  • nicho

    But I do save on night lights.

  • hollywoodstein

    The Pollack fishery was still in good shape and sustainable last I checked many moons ago.

  • hollywoodstein

    We keep breeding. And though we are social animals there always seem to be a few of us who want it all.

  • hollywoodstein

    West Coast that is.

  • hollywoodstein

    I am aware of tests showing it has made it to our coast.

  • TuxedoCartman

    Okay, I just have one question about all of this (and I’m really not being fecitious): if fish stocks in Japan are so unhealthy that it is recommended you don’t eat them at all, how is it the Japanese are some of the longest lived people on earth? Fish is a daily part of their diet. What am I missing here?

  • Drew2u
  • What are we doing to the world? We hominids are destroying the ecosystem in the name of “because we want to.”

    We’re engineering our own extinction.

  • Ford Prefect

    When considering Alaskan seafood, remember one word: Fukushima. The US has refused to test Pacific seafood for radiological contaminants. There is a reason for this. If you’ve been eating Alaskan Halibut, you’ve probably ingested some Cesium along with the mercury.

  • Naja pallida

    For some reason I doubt most fish oil products ever start out as anything we would recognize as fish… but from what I’ve read, no brands have been found to contain notable amounts of mercury. I’m sure your mileage may vary, as supplements are so poorly regulated.

  • hollywoodstein

    I hated paying for Copper River salmon and getting home and realizing it was farmed.

  • Naja pallida

    Primarily because tilapia are aqua-cultured on a huge scale… and are easy to raise in the disgusting environments of fish farms. Doesn’t mean it isn’t actually the species that is found in Alaska… but I would doubt it. Tilapia is one of the most diverse groups of fish, and found all over the world. They could pick any of a hundred different species and label it as “Alaskan”, and since we have no real regulations making sure our food is actually labeled as what it really is…

  • hollywoodstein

    Weren’t the oceans to feed the burgeoning world population?

  • hollywoodstein

    When the world is running down,
    You make the best of what’s still around.

  • hollywoodstein

    Okay, I still have Bluefin once a year.
    It makes me a bad person, but I have never denied that I am a bad person.

  • hollywoodstein

    I stopped eating fish a few years ago because of this, except for the occasional meal, and some trout I catch from a mountain spring that’s been tested.

  • hollywoodstein

    What to do you expect? The world has been using the ocean as an industrial toilet for decades.

  • As of four years ago they were safe.

  • nicho

    Now, if only our vegetables weren’t being poisoned by agribusiness, we could all become vegans. But there are more foodborne illnesses from vegetables than from out contaminated meat supply — and now fish supply. Thank dog for minimal regulations and lack of inspections — the corporatists’ dream. “The market” will straighten things out.

  • UncleBucky

    Halt the fisheries world-wide, then. This is just another good excuse. Too bad, Long John Silver, you can do your piracy some other way. Horsemeat fingers, anybody? ;o)

  • SkippyFlipjack

    If anyone’s curious — the biggest fish are the worst for you in terms of mercury because mercury doesn’t erode, it keeps collecting as fish eat and get eaten. Fish at the highest trophic level — top of the food chain — have the most mercury.

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s pocket fish chart is a good reference guide; it grades fish based on effect on the environment and fishery status, plus notes which are bad in terms of contaminants.

  • Drew2u
  • markofthebeasts

    I recall in an environmental class a few years ago that one of the states in the US had not detected mercury in its fish. That state, was Wyoming. That state did not see any value in testing pollution in fish, hence no tests were done, therefore no pollution was detected, at least by the state government.

  • dula

    Lawd what about fish oil?

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