Reel In Your Annual Guide To Safe Eating Of Fish Caught In Missouri Streams

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Missouri’s 2009 Fish Consumption Advisory, featuring the finer points on ways to clean, cook and safely prepare locally caught fish, is now available on the state health department’s Web site.

Released each year prior to Missouri’s fishing season, the Fish Consumption Advisory provides guidelines for eating Missouri-caught fish, information on the potential health effects of key contaminants and advice on way to handle fish to reduce contaminants prior to consumption.

New to this year’s report is the addition of walleye to the state-wide limited-consumption advisory because of mercury contamination.

Also new this year is advice on steps individuals can take to reduce their exposure to lead in fishing tackle. Anglers are advised not to place such items in their mouths, to wash their hands before eating or drinking and to purchase fishing tackle made of alternative materials, such as tin, bismuth, and tungsten.

All fish contain small amounts of chemical contaminants. In most instances, and for most people, the health benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential health risks from contaminants. However, there are occasions when limited or even no consumption of fish is appropriate.

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Because of elevated mercury levels in certain fish, the guide advises pre-teens and women of child-bearing age to eat no more than one fish meal per month of certain types of fish. The limit applies to walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass longer than 12 inches caught anywhere in the state.

Chemicals commonly found in fish may affect children and developing fetuses differently than adults. Therefore, many of the recommended limits on fish consumption are especially important for children younger than 13 years and women of childbearing age, particularly those who are pregnant or nursing.

State health officials also noted that the advisory has been changed for the Blue River in Jackson County between Minor Park and the Missouri River. It recommends that all consumers eat no more than one meal per month of carp and channel catfish taken from that stretch of the Blue River because of the presence of chlordane and PCBs.

The Department of Health and Senior Services, which publishes the advisory, also has removed the consumption warning for largemouth bass greater than 12 inches taken from Simpson Park Lake in St. Louis County.

The 2009 consumption guidelines are based on the most recent fish sampling information available. Included in the advisory are tips for cleaning, preparing and cooking fish in ways that help reduce potential exposure to contaminants.

The advisory also outlines the benefits of eating fish as part of a healthy diet. Fish is a good source of high-quality protein and essential nutrients. Fish is low in cholesterol. And some types of fish have omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for the development of the nervous system. Such fatty acids may be beneficial in reducing heart disease and may have other beneficial health effects.

To ensure that Missourians continue to enjoy the state’s fishing resources and obtain the healthful effects of eating fish, state officials will continue to monitor fish tissue for contaminants.

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