Food Engineering

Senators call for mercury limits in seafood

March 22, 2003
Two Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that calls for establishing a minimum level for the presence of methylmercury in seafood. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) would amend the Federal Food , Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to "establish a tolerance for the presence of methylmercury in seafood, and for other purposes." The lawmakers say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) current action level of 1.0 parts per million for methylmercury in fish is out of date and does not provide adequate protection to pregnant women and young children. The Mercury-Safe Seafood Act of 2001 calls for FDA, using scientific evidence, to set a minimum level of methylmercury deemed safe over long-term exposure. Fish containing higher levels could not be sold commercially. The bill was introduced after a Congressional report warned that oversight of commercial seafood is inadequate.