Seafood

The FDA’s failure to respond within the proper timeframe to a petition to create stricter limits on allowable levels of mercury in fish has landed the agency in court.

The lawsuit was filed by GotMercury.org—a project between Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Center for Biological Diversity focused on regulating mercury levels and educating consumers about the risks of consuming mercury-tainted seafood. The group first filed the initial petition with the FDA in June 2011. The agency has 180 days to respond to a petition according to federal law, but with more than a year passing without a response, the group filed legal proceedings against the agency.

Food Quality News reports that Turtle Island Restoration Network said the lawsuit was filed because the government “has failed to respond to reasonable precautions protecting Americans from mercury toxicity in seafood,” adding that “by not responding within the 180 days dictated by law, the FDA is demonstrating its lack of due diligence and its obligation to protect women of childbearing age, pregnant and nursing women, children and the most vulnerable population from harm.”

Currently, the FDA’s guidelines for mercury allow 1 part per million. The petition urged the FDA to meet the EPA’s standards of 0.5 parts per million. And the petition also requested that the agency urge seafood sellers to conspicuously post signs about the risks of mercury-tainted seafood.

Mercury poisoning is most common from eating tainted fish and seafood. It can cause damage to the nervous system and brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and decrease immune function.

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