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Consumer Groups Sue FDA Over Mercury in Seafood
Earthjustice, along with Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Mercury Policy Project, are suing the FDA for “failing to respond to a July 2011 petition in which the groups asked the FDA to give consumers clear, accurate, and accessible information about toxic mercury in the seafood they eat.” At this time, the latest recommendations for pregnant women eating shellfish are to avoid certain species, and eat up to 12 ounces a week of other fish. Those recommendations were set in 2004.
The lawsuit asks for a court-ordered deadline for the FDA to respond to its request that signs be required at seafood counters and on seafood labels to let consumers know how much mercury is in the fish they buy. The FDA had 180 days, three years ago, to respond to the petition, but did not.
Mercury content in seafood is a concern and has been for years. Airborne mercury comes from coal-fired power plants and gold mining. It falls into the ocean, where it is converted into methyl mercury, which is a neurotoxin. That concentrates in fish and shellfish. Methylmercury exposure is linked to lowered IQ, learning disabilities, and impaired cognitive functioning.
Activists sue FDA over mercury disclosures in seafood
Consumer protection and environmental advocacy groups filed al lawsuit Monday, accusing the Food and Drug Administration of failing to act in response to calls for more public information about mercury levels in seafood.
The legal action follows a petition filed by the group Earthjustice three years ago, urging the FDA to require signs at supermarket seafood counters to telling shoppers about the amounts of mercury in fish.
The petition, filed on behalf of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Mercury Policy Project, also calls for labels on packaged seafood.
The groups say FDA officials had, under the agency’s own rules, 180 days to respond to the petition but ignored the deadline in violation of federal law.