Seems there’s a bit of a snafu in that fancy new food pyramid the USDA recently unveiled.

[Swordfish and king mackerel] are among [the fish] most contaminated with mercury, a pollutant released from coal-fired power plants — which the Bush administration has failed to crack down on. According to E.P.A. research, some 600,000 U.S. newborns, each year, are at risk for learning disorders and behavioral problems because of their exposure to the neurotoxin in the womb.

The USDA’s new Web site ignores all these mercury warnings, recommending the very fish most likely to contain high levels of mercury. "Not only does the new food pyramid shirk away from telling the public which unhealthy foods to avoid," said David Wallinga, director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Health Program in Minneapolis, "it actually tells people to eat fish that other federal agencies warn are too contaminated with mercury to eat."


Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!