WisconsinAquaculture.com - Jan 2010 FAO/WHO Rpt on Risks/Benefits of Fish Consumption
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Jan 2010 FAO/WHO Rpt on Risks/Benefits of Fish Consumption

The Report of the Joint FAO/WHO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States/World Health Organization) Expert Consultation on the Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption, Rome, 25-29, January 2010 (FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Report No. 978. Rome, 2011. 50 pp.)

The Consultation recommended a series of steps, such as the need to emphasize the neurodevelopment benefits to offspring from fish consumption by women of childbearing age, and the neurodevelopment risks to offspring of such women not consuming fish.

The report’s conclusions and recommendations include:

Conclusions

  • Consumption of fish provides energy, protein and a range of essential nutrients.
  • Eating fish is part of the cultural traditions of many peoples. In some populations, fish is a major source of food and essential nutrients.
  • Among the general adult population, consumption of fish, particularly fatty fish, lowers the risk of coronary heart disease mortality. There is an absence of probable or convincing evidence of coronary heart disease risks of methylmercury. Potential cancer risks of dioxins are well below established coronary heart disease benefits.
  • Among women of childbearing age, pregnant women and nursing mothers, considering benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) versus risks of methylmercury, fish consumption lowers the risk of suboptimal neurodevelopment in their offspring compared with not eating fish in most circumstances evaluated.
  • At levels of maternal dioxin exposure (from fish and other dietary sources) that do not exceed the provisional tolerable monthly intake (PTMI), neurodevelopmental risk is negligible. At levels of maternal dioxin exposure (from fish and other dietary sources) that exceed the PTMI, neurodevelopmental risk may no longer be negligible.
  • Among infants, young children and adolescents, evidence is insufficient to derive a quantitative framework of health risks and benefits. However, healthy dietary patterns that include fish consumption and are established early in life influence dietary habits and health during adult life.

 Recommendations

To minimize risks in target populations, the Expert Consultation recommends that Member States should:

  • acknowledge fish as an important food source of energy, protein and a range of essential nutrients and fish consumption as part of the cultural traditions of many peoples;
  • emphasize the benefits of fish consumption on reducing coronary heart disease mortality (and the risks of mortality from coronary heart disease associated with not eating fish) for the general adult population;
  • emphasize the net neurodevelopmental benefits to offspring of fish consumption by women of childbearing age, particularly pregnant women and nursing mothers, and the neurodevelopmental risks of not consuming fish to offspring of such women;
  • develop, maintain and improve existing databases on specific nutrients and contaminants, particularly methylmercury and dioxins, in fish consumed in their region;
  • develop and evaluate risk management and communication strategies that both minimize risks and maximize benefits from eating fish.

 The full report can be found on the FAO web site

 

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