California Warns Citizens: Beware of Fish

If you’re eating fish, you’re ingesting a toxic stew of mercury, lead, PCBs, and even flame-retardant chemicals. Now, under the terms of a precedent-setting California court settlement, consumers will be warned about the health risks of eating fish.

Major restaurant chains that sell fish must now post signs warning patrons about the health hazards posed by fish flesh. The California courts ruled that the signs, which will provide diners with detailed information about the toxins found in fish, are required under laws that compel businesses to warn consumers when they are selling cancer-causing substances.

The restaurants involved in the settlement include well-known eateries like Bennigan’s, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and P.F. Chang’s. The attorney general brought the suit against these chains because they violated guidelines that require businesses to notify the public about the health threats posed by certain products.

In addition to posting signs near their entrances warning patrons about the serious risks posed by mercury-tainted fish, the restaurants were also ordered to pay large fines for failing to post signs warning patrons about the dangers posed by fish flesh. The money from the fines will be used to fund efforts to educate the public about the toxins in fish.

  Contaminated fish isn’t just a threat to Californians—people all over the world put themselves at risk for serious health problems if they eat even small amounts of fish.

The ruling follows in the wake of mounting concern over the dangerous contaminants in fish flesh. Fish absorb all the pollutants in our waterways, and these toxins become concentrated in their flesh at levels up to 9 million times the level in the water. In California, the authorities are especially concerned about mercury—this toxic metal is found in all fish flesh, and eating even small amounts of fish can have a big impact on the levels of mercury in our blood. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that women who ate fish just twice a week had blood mercury concentrations seven times higher than women who hadn’t eaten fish in the previous month. Mercury is known to cause severe health problems for humans, including brain damage, memory loss, personality change, tremors, spontaneous abortion, and damage to a developing fetus. Learn more about the toxins in fish.

Contaminated fish isn’t just a threat to Californians—people all over the world put themselves at risk for serious health problems if they eat even small amounts of fish. But with all the great faux-fish alternatives available today, there’s absolutely no reason to put ourselves at risk— leaving sea animals off our plates has never been easier! Order a free vegetarian starter kit packed with useful information to help you make the switch.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind