WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a poorly-sourced,
sensational article in this morning's New York Times, reporter Marian
Burros presents a distorted report on sushi and seafood that is at odds
with widely accepted science. The story is unreliable and contradicts
broadly-held medical advice that tuna and other kinds of fish are an
essential part of a healthy diet. The Times story is alarmist, special
interest-driven journalism and should be treated with extreme skepticism.
NFI will be demanding an explanation from Times editors for how these
basic breaches in the newspaper's own standards could have occurred and
will also be requesting a formal correction on specific errors.
Among the egregious errors and omissions found in Burros's story:
-- There is little if any acknowledgment or explanation of the widely
accepted benefits associated with eating seafood. Well researched
science-based articles that deal with the mercury issue deserve to include
a discussion of the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. An article that
presents a risk-only analysis ignores widely tested and reported health
benefits that offset many of the concerns raised.
-- The sourcing found throughout the report is almost completely
one-sided. Aside from the Environmental Protection Agency and restaurants
whose sushi was tested by the Times, the only sources consulted are experts
with clear self-interests and or activist groups engaged in both lobbying
and fundraising against coal fired power plants, a source of mercury.
-- Despite the availability of well regarded, independent, objective
laboratories Burros chose to have her Sushi samples tested by Dr. Michael
Gochfeld. As part of his own work Gochfeld treats patients for issues
related to mercury. Because Gochfeld's research and practice stands to
benefit from alarmist stories about mercury he should not be considered an
objective clinician in this case.
-- Kate Mahaffey from the EPA tells readers that a rise in blood
mercury levels in this country "appears" to be related to Americans eating
fish that are higher in mercury. This is pure speculation and is in fact
refuted by the latest consumption data that shows lower mercury seafood
like shrimp, salmon and tilapia are some of the most popular.
-- Environmental Defense is a political activist group with scant
expertise in the medical science of food consumption. Burros omits mention
of their fundraising agenda, instead describing them disingenuously as
"work[ing]...to improve human health." Yet, the "advice" they offer is at
odds with what every major medical, health and government agency has
-- Throughout the article there is a sensational mischaracterization of
the RfD (reference dose). Burros suggests that people who eat a certain
number of pieces of sushi are at risk of exceeding EPA's reference dose
level. It does not mention that those guidelines are based on consumption
over one's entire lifetime and not merely a certain number of days or
weeks. Nor does it mention the built in ten-fold safety factor.
-- In mentioning the levels of mercury found in the samples tested
Burros fails to explain that the FDA's "Action Level" is a calculated
estimate that also includes a ten-fold safety factor.
For more than 60 years, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) and its
members have provided American families with the variety of sustainable
seafood essential to a healthy diet. For more information visit:
SOURCE National Fisheries Institute