More of the Same from The Dr. Oz Show

To no one’s surprise, Dr. Oz chooses hyperbole and fear-mongering over sound science in a new segment about seafood on his daytime talk show. Dr. Oz and a guy we can loosely describe as a field reporter, Mark Schatzker, who is featured in a previous segment reporting that “[this] taste like lettuce, but just a little bit more like lettuce” together discuss market aspects of both wild and farmed shrimp. Ultimately, their report scares consumers away from shrimp altogether, a real disservice to an audience that is apparently interested in becoming healthier, despite the fact that they’re relying on a doctor probably best known for quackery. Unlike other products Dr. Oz promotes (ahem, green coffee bean extract), shrimp is a low-fat, high protein food that is affordable and accessible to Americans, and Dr. Oz does harm to his audience by leading them away from this healthy product.

There are numerous inaccuracies throughout the various segments and below we highlight just a few.

Dr. Oz claims that wild shrimp has more omega-3 fatty acids than farmed shrimp.

There is no science to back this up. The USDA Nutrient Database (which contains data about omega-3 fatty acid content in seafood) does not differentiate between wild and farmed shrimp. It is well known in the nutrition community that the differences in omega-3s between farm-raised and wild species are negligible, because all fish and shellfish need omega-3s in their diet (whether it be from seaweed, plankton, other fish, or formulated feed) to thrive.  The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) Report states, “For commonly consumed fish species in the United  States, such as bass, cod, trout, and salmon, farmed-raised seafood has as much or more of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA as the same species captured in the wild.”  In other words, eat a wide variety of seafood.  Whether wild-caught or farmed, most species of fish have about the same amount of omega-3s.

Dr. Oz claims less than 4% of shrimp imports are inspected

This demonstrates a fundamental lack of knowledge about the seafood community and how it is regulated. Both domestic and international companies providing shrimp to Americans have to comply with FDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulatory system, an internationally recognized risk-based model that seeks to solve challenges along the supply chain at multiple “control points.” Unlike other regulatory programs, there isn’t an “end of the line” inspection, but control points all along the supply chain as part of a plan approved by the FDA before a company can sell shrimp to Americans. This is not communicated by Dr. Oz. The success of this food safety system is evident. CDC data shows that out of more than 120,000 foodborne illnesses reported over a five year period, less than 2% were attributable to imported food. And of that number, just 0.12% of the reported illnesses were attributable to seafood. (All seafood, not just shrimp.) Dr. Oz’s broad brush claim about FDA inspections is sorely lacking in perspective.

Aliens who recently landed on earth are the only ones shocked to hear that Dr. Oz continues to produce misinformation by the vat full and then dump it on his unsuspecting audience. Oz’s most recent seafood soliloquy  can be filed with so many of his others that range from bizarre to blatantly false.