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  1. Environmental Contaminants in Food

Mercury in Food

Advice About Eating Fish - Chart

Advice about Eating Fish

For Those Who Might Become or Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding and Children Ages 1 - 11 Years

Mercury may be present in food from the environment where foods are grown or raised. Levels of mercury in the environment can vary depending on natural geographical makeup and proximity to current or past use or manufacturing of products made with mercury. For example, mercury can be distributed in the environment from volcanic activity, geological weathering, and can be higher in areas as a result of fossil fuel combustion, manufacturing, and small-scale gold mining.

The FDA monitors and regulates levels of mercury in foods. Because the very young are more vulnerable to the harmful health effects of mercury exposure, and because seafood is the most common way people are exposed to mercury, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued advice on eating fish.

Among the FDA’s top priorities is maintaining access to foods that are sources of nutrients while limiting consumer exposure to contaminants. Having adequate nutrition is vital to growth and development for babies and children and helps promote health and prevent disease throughout our lifespan. The FDA collaborates with state and federal partners, industry, and other stakeholders to identify and facilitate the implementation of sustainable and effective strategies for growing, sourcing, processing, and manufacturing foods that contain lower levels of environmental contaminants, such as mercury, while maintaining their nutritional quality and accessibility.

For more information about the FDA’s specific activities to reduce exposure to arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium from foods consumed by babies and young children, please visit the Closer to Zero page.

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