Group sues FDA over mercury

07/26/2012

Environmental and consumer organizations, including Forest Knolls-based Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN), filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s failure to implement stricter standards to protect the public from mercury in seafood. The lawsuit seeks a response to the 2011 petition filed by GotMercury.org, a project of TIRN, for rules requiring seafood sellers to post signs about the danger of mercury in fish, improved health advisories for the people most at-risk from mercury exposure, and more stringent mercury limits for FDA-approved seafood. “We are filing suit because the government has failed to respond to reasonable precautions protecting Americans from mercury toxicity in seafood, Todd Steiner, executive director of TIRN, said in a press release. He noted that the FDA has not responded within the 180 days dictated by law. “By ignoring its own standards and allowing seafood that is high in mercury to be sold, the FDA is putting hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting Americans at risk of permanent nerve damage and cognitive disorders,” David McGuire of GotMercury.org said. Mercury exposure, which is especially harmful to pregnant women, women of child-birthing age, and young children, is most heavily sourced from the consumption of swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, shark and high consumption of tuna. Besides requiring that the FDA update mercury standards and policies, the lawsuit and petition seek to cut the allowable mercury level in half, from 1 part million (ppm) to .5 ppm, in order to harmonize it with Environmental Protection Agency recommendations.