Hooked on Mercury Hype?
Chicago Tribune, New York Times Ads Offer an Antidote to Fishy Mercury Fears
December 20, 2005
On the heels of a largely one-sided Chicago Tribune series that unnecessarily hyped fears of trace amounts of mercury in fish, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom has placed full- page advertisements in both the Tribune and The New York Times. "Hooked On Mercury Hype?" the ads ask, referring readers to FishScam.com, a new website that tackles the politics of fish fears. FishScam.com puts the speculative risks from mercury and other "fish fears" in their proper perspective, and blows the whistle on environmental and animal-rights groups that manufacture fear campaigns to raise money.
"The amount of mercury that Americans have always gotten from the fish on their plates is a tiny fraction of what could be harmful," said Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko. "The best science indicates that you shouldn't worry about mercury in your diet unless you eat a massive amount of fish -- or whale meat."
Last week's three-part Chicago Tribune series ignored government advisories and the science behind them, warning the public about "mercury poisoning" that could result from fish in a typical American diet. But data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly show that not a single American has reason for concern.
"The Tribune also forgot to tell readers that our government's mercury 'limits' have a built-in safety factor of 1,000 percent," Martosko said. "So even though
fish contain mercury, as they always have, Americans are still protected by a sizable cushion. Causing a panic over the mercury levels in the fish we eat is
like worrying about driving 6 miles-per-hour in a 50-mph zone. We're nowhere near the danger line, and we never have been."
In addition to the Internet's first realistic mercury-in-fish calculator, FishScam.com provides point-by-point rebuttals to the fish scares promoted by
over a dozen activist groups (and some newspaper reporters). It also offers science-based information about mercury, activist boycotts of Atlantic swordfish
and Chilean sea bass, and flawed animal-rights arguments about whether or not it is humane to fish.
"Americans need to be reminded that the health benefits of eating fish are very real, while the risks are imaginary," added Martosko.
The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers, working together to promote personal
responsibility and protect consumer choices.