A controversial recommendation made by a health council on fish consumption has riled some in the fisheries industry. (Photo: Stock File)
Health council bashed for advising lower fish consumption
Monday, May 17, 2010, 16:40 (GMT + 9)
Australia’s National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been accused of potentially jeopardising the health of the country’s citizens through its recommendation that they should eat seafood just once weekly.
This comes after the release of a draft report prepared for the NHMRC stating that Australians should eat seafood once a week instead of twice or more, as recommended by other Australian and international health experts.
Industry spokesman Roy Palmer said the draft recommendation is based on concerns over the “sustainability of stocks.”
“The seafood industry is furious over the draft recommendation and a number of health researchers have also privately expressed their strong concern to me,” he said. “NHMRC should focus on the good health of the Australian community and allow fisheries managers and scientists to look after the health of fish stocks.”
Palmer said the recommendation clashes with government and independent health researchers worldwide and even the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
But the FAO and WHO in Rome some time ago established an Expert Consultation Committee to discuss the Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption, he informed, and they advise all member states -- including Australia and New Zealand -- of Codex Alimentarius Commission:
- acknowledge fish consumption as an important food source;
- emphasise the benefits of fish consumption on reducing adult heart disease and mortality;
- emphasise the neurodevelopment benefits to offspring of fish consumption by women of childbearing age, pregnant women and nursing mothers, plus the neurodevelopment risks to offspring of such women not consuming fish;
- develop, maintain and improve active databases on specific nutrients and contaminants in fish consumed in their region; and
- develop and evaluate risk management and communication strategies that both minimise risks and maximise benefits from eating fish.
The FAO report’s background, scope, conclusions and recommendations will be considered at the International Seafood and Health Conference and The Wonders and Opportunities of the Ocean Exposition, which will take place in Melbourne on 6-10 November, according to Palmer.
“The Australian Government has recently made some positive moves regarding the health of its people but, in areas where simple dietary advice can save peoples’ lives, we are well behind. Government continues to work around industry instead of working with industry,” he added.
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