Conference for Food Protection

2016 Biennial Meeting

Issue View | Council III | 2016 Scribe Packet

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Issue Number: Council III 033

Issue History

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Fish Advisory Committee

Issue you would like the Conference to consider

The FDA recognizes the need to inform consumers of the risk of foodborne illness through the consumption of raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs. They further stipulate consumers should be aware of the eight major allergens that may be contained within a food item. However, it is evident the potential dangers of consuming the chemical contaminates found in certain fish and seafood products is not covered in the Food Code. Currently there is a push by consumers and the US Government to consider sustainable and healthy eating when deciding upon your meal. These farm to fork initiatives influence the consumption habits of consumers that may not be aware of local fish consumption advisories

Public Health Significance

Toxic substances, such as polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and methyl mercury can accumulate in the fat or muscle of certain species of fish. Over-consumption of these contaminants may result in chronic debilitating health issues and can potentially be fatal. Our most vulnerable populations, children, children in utero and immune compromised individuals can be in jeopardy of chronic illness or death if accumulation of these toxins occurs. It is quite possible that every day consumers of fish are not receiving the species-specific fish consumption advisories provided for fish caught in individual bodies of water to determine safe consumption practices.
The EPA and FDA agree consumption of certain species of fish and shellfish can result in adverse health effects, therefore they recommend consulting fish and shellfish consumption advisories. However, when dining out or purchasing products to prepare at home, these advisories are not typically available. The point of purchase is the best opportunity to inform consumers that are unaware of the risks of consumption of certain fish products. The only other option to prevent chemical contamination is to assume all consumers have taken the initiative to educate themselves on the dangers of the consumption of all seafood provided in the restaurant or grocery store where they happen to be shopping.

Recommended Solution: The Conference recommends...

that a committee be created to discuss, analyze, and make recommendations advising consumers of potential risks associated with chemical contaminants in fish. Committee charges are as follows:

1) Compare existing EPA/FDA guidance on chemical contaminates found in species of fish/fish products.

2) Develop a guidance document that can be easily interpreted by the average consumer; document to include but not be limited to the potential risk for chemical contamination.

3) Determine if a point of sale consumer advisory is needed for fish and fish products

4) Recommend revised Food Code language.

5) Report back the committee's recommendations and findings to the 2018 Biennial Meeting.

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