Mercury

What is Mercury?

You’ve probably heard of mercury and know that too much of it is not a good thing. It’s a metal –that is found naturally in our environment including the occasional food product.

Why are people concerned about mercury in fish?

If you happen to eat too much mercury it can negatively affect our nervous system - our vision, hearing, speech, coordination, and muscle strength. It can also be damaging for child development, pregnant women and their babies if levels are very high.

You’ve probably seen news articles from time to time that talk about mercury in fish so it’s not surprising that people worry. Especially when you know how good fish is for you.

How much mercury does fish contain?

Fish have a tendency to accumulate mercury so most fish contain some. The good news is that in most fish the level is very low and of no concern. 

 

It can become a problem with predatory fish, such as sharks, that are higher up the food chain (these fish eat other fish, who have already feasted on other fish and so on) and older fish. The amount of mercury in fish also varies depending on where it comes from – mercury levels in tuna caught in the Pacific can be different to Atlantic caught tuna. 

How much fish can I eat and are there any species to worry about?

Well-developed guidelines recommend we eat fish two to three times a week, and generally, mercury is nothing to worry about. Many fish are fine to eat more often than this too – e.g hoki and salmon. Variety is the spice of life so remember to mix it up with different fish species and seafood!

There are a few types of fish that should be eaten less frequently such as swordfish and lake trout, particularly for young children and pregnant women. Tuna is often one people worry about. The type of tuna we use (Skipjack) is a short-living fish, meaning they accumulate only low amounts of mercury. All of our products have been tested and have safe levels.