It's the go-to "healthy" meal for uni students and gym bros alike. But how much tuna is too much? And how real is the risk of mercury toxicity?
The massive amounts of plastic trash in marine environments may be leading to toxic metals entering the food chain.
If you’ve ever eaten sushi, you may be familiar with rumors and rumblings about how eating too much can give you mercury poisoning. Pregnant women are typically advised to steer clear of any spicy tuna roll cravings because.
It has to be dangerous to eat too much of a certain kind of fish, right? Well, sort of. Mercury poisoning, and fear of it, is laced with misconceptions, in part because the metal comes in different forms and thus, has different modes of poisoning someone.
Emissions of mercury have declined, but levels in fish could still increase thanks to overfishing and a changing climate.
Toxic algae is one of the quickest-spreading deadly effects of the climate crisis in the United States. As the Arctic’s glaciers melt and the Amazon’s rainforest burns, America’s lakes, rivers, and coastlines are being increasingly infiltrated by several different types of brightly colored, toxic algae bacterium that thrive in warm, nutrient-rich conditions.
Ciguatera (pronounced sig-WAH-terra) is produced by algae that grow in warm water, and there is a risk of it spreading north as ocean waters warm, said Elizabeth G. Radke, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute and the lead author of the study.
The poison is picked up by coral reef fish that eat vegetation and concentrates in larger carnivorous fish that eat them. The highest levels are found in barracuda, but it is also found in grouper, amberjack, hogfish, snapper, mackerel and mahi-mahi. Neither cooking nor freezing affects the toxin.
Poisoning from ingested marine toxins is an underrecognized hazard for travelers, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. Furthermore, the risk is increasing because of climate change, coral reef damage, and spread of toxic algal blooms.
Scientists have assured me that one serving of halibut contains nowhere near a dosage that might cause harm. These are the same scientists, though, who admit that no one knows for sure what the threshold dose is that causes mercury to subtly poison cells in the brain and the liver, two organs where it tends to accumulate.
Scientists say that consuming fish may be more hazardous to your health than you think, according to new reports published this week.
So what can you do avoid this nasty toxin?
Don't order the red snapper or grouper caught in areas associated with ciguatera outbreaks, she recommends. "You can't detect the toxin by smell or sight. So you really don't know when you're eating it."
Plus, you can't cook, clean or freeze the toxin away from the fish. "That's what's so frustrating about the illness," she says. "It doesn't occur because of improper cooking, storing or fish handling."
The organic mercury is what gets into the food chain. It's put into the water by chemical plants that are manufacturing things and they get into shellfish and fish, or elemental mercury that gets into the water is changed into organic mercury by sea life; we eat fish or shellfish and we get mercury exposure. That organic mercury acts very similarly to the elemental form. It affects a lot of nervous system damage.
Since the smell test doesn't really cut it, we decided to investigate the chemicals in seafood that you might not know about. We all know that mercury is often found in fish and are careful about our mercury consumption but did you know about the presence of pesticides, flame retardants or arsenic in the world's seafood?
Even with these data, researchers still can’t ascertain the impact of rising levels of mercury on marine fish, and on the people who consume them, Lamborg notes. That’s because scientists still don’t know precisely how inorganic mercury transforms into toxic methylmercury.
Scombroid poisoning is a type of food intoxication caused by the consumption of scombroid and scombroid-like marine fish species that have begun to spoil with the growth of particular types of food bacteria. Fish most commonly involved are members of the Scombridae family (tunas and mackerels), and a few non-scombroid relatives (bluefish, dolphin or mahi-mahi, and amberjacks).
We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury.
But mercury is just one of a slew of synthetic and organic pollutants that fish can ingest and absorb into their tissue.
The consumption of shellfish (e.g. mussels, clams) is one of the most common ways for algal toxins to impact human health.
At certain times of the year, various species of fish and shellfish contain poisonous biotoxins, even if well cooked. According to the CDC, it is considered an under-recognized risk for travelers, specifically in the tropics and subtropics.
The most common of these are Ciguatera poisoning, Scombroid poisoning, and various shellfish poisonings.