SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY?
We’re told to eat fish – great! But there’s so much on the market, and so much talk about the dangers of mercury, how do we know which fish is safe to eat? Here goes…
Rule 1 = Fresh is always best!
Farmed fish, as opposed to fish caught in the open seas, will usually be contaminated by antibiotics and other chemicals fish farmers use to control diseases that manifest from being raised in a fish farm and being fed a non nutritious food source. Farming fish makes the fish big, fat, succulent and less expensive, but low in nutrients and naturally immunity and highly toxic.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) recently tested for chemical residues in both domestic and imported farmed fish. They found a fungicide (malachite green) in 16 per cent of domestically farmed fish and 17 per cent of imported farmed fish.
In 2003, from a random sample size of 1004 Australian adults, approximately half the sample (49%) ate seafood purchased in supermarkets, with 26% at specialist seafood stores, 20% directly from fresh fish markets and 16% catching their own seafood.(1) So unless you are catching it your self or getting a fresh source from your local fishmonger, your are probably eating toxic, nutrient deficient fish!
Note: Fish imported from China and other parts of South East Asia in particular is liable to be contaminated. Basa would be an example of this.
US authorities have frequently found banned chemicals including fungicides, antibiotics, and other banned chemicals (fluoroquinolones, nitrofurans and gentian violet) in farmed seafood from China.
Here in Australia, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQUIS) only checks about five per cent of all imported fish! ONLY 5%!!!!!!!!! So, as a rule, always go fresh / ocean over farmed
Rule 2 = Avoid heavy toxic metals!
Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and accumulates in the aquatic food chain, including fish, as methyl-mercury. This means all fish contain some methyl-mercury. The good news is that most fish in Australian waters have very low mercury levels. The bad news is that most of our supermarkets sell fish from Indonesia because they are cheaper!Lets look at three of the most common ones tuna, salmon and prawns.
Tuna can be a great source of omega-3s, but unfortunately the mercury content can’t be ignored. Avoid if you are pregnant, nursing, or a small child. I personally do not include a lot of tuna as part of my regular diet. I tend to eat more ocean Australian / Atlantic salmon. There are many species of tuna with varying mercury contents. Canned white, or albacore, tuna has more mercury on average than canned light tuna, which is skipjack, tongol, or smaller yellowfin. John West states that they only supply ocean salmon and slipjack tuna. If you are going to eat canned tuna, I would steer towards these products over the “home brand” or foreign brands. (http://johnwest.com.au/About-Us/Our-Sustainable-Catch)
Aim for Australian salmon if you can get it. All species are neritic and epipelagic, staying within the upper layers of relatively shallow (from 1 – 80 metres), open and clear coastal waters around Australia. They are usually lower in mercury than other types of salmon. Again I would stay clear of farmed salmon!
Australian and New Zealand prawns are generally low in mercury and fairly safe to eat. Again, beware of cheap Asian imports. If you are still concerned, here is a list from highest toxic content to lowest.
Fish with the Highest Levels of Mercury
• King Mackerel
Fish and Seafood with Mid-Range Mercury Levels
• Tuna (all varieties except skipjack)
• Orange Roughy
• Spanish Mackerel
• Chilean Seabass
• Weakfish (sea trout)
• Striped Bass or Rockfish
Fish and Seafood with Low Mercury Levels
• Freshwater perch
• Canned light tuna (skipjack)
• Spiny lobster
• Boston or Chub Mackerel
• American shad
Fish and Seafood with Very Low Mercury Levels
• Flounder, fluke, plaice, sand dabs