For the first time in more than 15 years, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has modified its health advisory and safe eating guidelines for fish and shellfish caught from San Francisco Bay.

According to the OEHHA’s guidelines, anglers should eat a variety of different kinds of fish, avoid fish known to have high amounts of mercury and other contaminants and properly prepare and cook fish.

Research found that sharks had the highest levels of mercury and shiner perch had the most PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). High exposure to methylmercury can affect the nervous system and harm learning ability, language skills and memory. PCBs have been found to cause cancer in animals and also cause health problems in young children and adults.

The OEHHA recommends avoiding shiner perch and other surfperch species from San Francisco Bay. Women ages 18-45 and children 1-17, who are most sensitive to mercury, should also avoid eating San Francisco Bay sharks, striped bass and white sturgeon.

As part of its new guidelines, the OEHHA also suggests the following to serve fish in the healthiest way possible: eating only the fillet portion, skimming and trimming all visible fat, thoroughly cooking fish before eating and when eating crabs, eating only the meat and avoiding internal organs.

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Photo Credit: Dan Cook, via Wikimedia Commons