Consumer Education / Advocacy Partner:

Environmental Defense’s Oceans Alive Program serves as Seafood Safe’s consumer education/advocacy partner. We are very grateful for their partnership with Seafood Safe, and their generous assistance in the development of this program.

Environmental Defense provides Seafood Safe consumers with a highly credible third-party source of information to educate themselves on contaminants in seafood, and safe consumption guidelines. They have a wealth of knowledge, which they make readily available on their website in a format that is easy to read and navigate.

Environmental Defense

Frequently Asked Questions:

It is important to consider these facts when determining your consumption levels:

  • Many people often eat more than 4oz. of fish at one time.
  • Children are especially susceptible to the effects of seafood contaminants.
  • Seafood Safe’s recommendation on the label is for women of childbearing age. Recommended meal advice should be adjusted accordingly depending on age, sex, different body weights and/or average portion sizes.
  • Seafood Safe’s recommendations are for healthy people. People with elevated levels of mercury and/or PCB’s should consult with their doctor before utilizing Seafood Safe’s consumption recommendations.
  • Seafood Safe strongly recommends that consumers keep track of their cumulative consumption, especially if consuming more than one species.


    Answers to Concerns about Toxins, Contaminants, and the Benefits of a Fish Diet.

    What's so healthy about eating fish?: Fish is a high-protein, low-fat food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which provide a range of health benefits. Read More

    Why are omega-3s good for your health?: A growing body of evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids help maintain cardiovascular health by playing a role in the regulation of blood clotting and vessel constriction. Read More

    What are contaminants?: Despite their valuable qualities, fish can pose considerable health risks when contaminated with substances such as heavy metals (e.g., mercury and lead), industrial chemicals (e.g., PCBs) and pesticides (e.g., DDT and dieldrin). Read More

    Where do contaminants come from?:
    Contaminants enter the water in a variety of ways. Industrial and municipal discharges, agricultural practices, and storm water runoff can all deposit harmful substances directly into the water. Read More

    What are the risks of eating seafood contaminated with industrial pollutants?: Contaminants such as mercury, PCBs and dioxins build up in your body over time. Health problems that may result from eating contaminated fish range from small, hard-to-detect changes to birth defects and cancer. Read More

    Do the health benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks associated with contaminants in seafood?: There is no definitive answer to this question, but the information provided here can help you decide for yourself. For young children and women of childbearing age, consumption of mercury-contaminated fish can severely impact a child's development. Read More

    What about natural toxins in seafood?: Besides industrial pollutants and other human-made contaminants, some seafood may also contain natural toxins if fish eat harmful algae or bacteria. Read More

    How can I reduce the risks?: Fish consumption is the primary route of exposure to contaminants like mercury and PCBs. Read More

    How can I cook fish to reduce toxins?: Unfortunately, there are no cooking methods that will reduce mercury levels in seafood since it is bound to proteins in fish tissue (including muscle). Read More

    What is the government doing about these problems?: Two government agencies are responsible for monitoring the nation's seafood supply. Read More


    Overview: Mercury is a highly poisonous heavy metal that poses a serious health risk to developing fetuses, babies and children, who may suffer brain damage and learning disabilities from prolonged or repeated exposure to small amounts of mercury. Read More

    What is Mercury and Where Does It Come From?: Mercury is a naturally occurring toxic metal that exists at low levels throughout the environment, and as an element it never breaks down or disappears. Mercury cycles through the environment, passing between the air, land and water, and affects plants and animals. Read More

    What Are the Health Risks Associated With Consuming Mercury-Contaminated Fish?: Mercury targets the nervous system and kidneys. Developing fetuses, infants and young children are at the highest risk from mercury exposure, since their brains and nervous systems are still forming. Read More

    How Can I Reduce the Risks of Eating Seafood Contaminated With Mercury?: Since methylmercury binds to proteins, it is found throughout fish tissue, including muscle tissue that makes up fish steaks and fillets. Therefore, cleaning and cooking methods that can reduce amounts of other contaminants (like trimming fat and removing skin and organs) are not successful in reducing mercury levels in fish. Read More

    What Fish Should I Avoid?: Fish low in contaminants are an important part of a healthy diet. That's why Environmental Defense recommends limited consumption of the following fish because of their elevated mercury levels. Read More


    Overview: PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are highly toxic industrial compounds. They pose serious health risks to fetuses, babies and children, who may suffer developmental and neurological problems from prolonged or repeated exposure to small amounts of PCBs. These chemicals are harmful to adults as well. Read More

    What Are PCBs and Where Do They Come From?: PCBs are man-made chlorinated industrial chemicals also known by the trade name of Aroclor. There are 209 different PCB compounds (called congeners), which can be mixed in different combinations to yield different Aroclor compounds. Read More

    What Are the Health Risks Associated With Consuming PCB-Contaminated Fish?: According to EPA, contaminated fish are a persistent source of PCBs in the human diet. PCBs are not highly toxic with a single dose (as in a single meal), but continued low levels of exposure (for example, eating contaminated fish over an extended period of time) may be harmful. Read More

    How Can I Reduce the Risks of Eating Seafood Contaminated With PCBs?: PCBs build up in fish and animal fat, and therefore proper cooking methods can help reduce your exposure. Read More

    What Fish Should I Avoid?: Fish low in contaminants are an important part of a healthy diet. That's why Environmental Defense recommends limiting consumption of the following fish due to elevated PCB levels. Read More

    Learn more at

    Businesses interested in participating in testing and labeling should send inquiries to

    back to top