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The Effect of Conflicting Health Information on Frozen Salmon Consumption in Alberta, Canada

  • Biology
  • Chemistry


JFDR-March08.indd The Effect of Confl icting Health Information on Frozen Salmon Consumption in Alberta, Canada Megan Nickoloff, Leigh Maynard, Sayed Saghaian, and Michael Reed Fish has long been viewed as a low-fat protein source that provides high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The health benefi ts of fi sh consumption have been publicized by numerous outlets, including the mainstream media, dieticians, and scientifi c jour- nals. Fish oil has been found to lower cholesterol and improve heart health, and omega-3 fatty acids are required for fetal development. However, on May 29, 2002, Health Canada issued a warning against frequent consumption of fi sh species found to be high in mercury (Wooltorton 2002). Children and pregnant women were identifi ed as high-risk demographics that should be fully educated about the risks of mercury poisoning. These consumers were advised to limit their intake of fi sh to one meal per week, with large, long-lived fi sh such as fresh tuna, swordfi sh, and shark receiving the highest level of concern. A similar advisory was issued in the United States (FDA 2001) as well as the U.K. (FSA 2003), Ireland (FSAI 2004), Australia, and New Zealand (FSANZ 2004) which followed with their own warnings from their respective food- safety agencies. Further health warnings continued when in Janu- ary 2004 Science magazine published research that found higher levels of carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in farmed salmon compared to wild salmon (Hites et al. 2004). Salmon are rela- tively fatty, predatory fi sh that tend to accumulate contaminants given their higher level in the food chain. The farmed-salmon samples tested higher for thirteen of the fourteen carcinogenic chemical levels that were examined. Given these warnings, there is a concern that consumers will overreact to negative messages and remove fi sh from their diets, which is especially alarming since obesity is a major health issue. Although the effi cacy o

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