Errors, Inaccuracy Mar NYT Sushi Story

Errors, Inaccuracy Mar NYT Sushi Story

In a poorly-sourced, sensational article in this mornings New York
Times, reporter Marian Burros presents a distorted report on sushi and
seafood that is at odds with widely accepted science. The story is
unreliable and contradicts broadly-held medical advice that tuna and
other kinds of fish are an essential part of a healthy diet. The Times
story is alarmist, special interest-driven journalism and should be
treated with extreme skepticism.

NFI will be demanding an explanation from Times editors for how
these basic breaches in the newspapers own standards could have
occurred and will also be requesting a formal correction on specific

Among the egregious errors and omissions found in Burross story:

– There is little if any acknowledgment or explanation of the widely
accepted benefits associated with eating seafood. Well researched
science-based articles that deal with the mercury issue deserve to
include a discussion of the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. An article
that presents a risk-only analysis ignores widely tested and reported
health benefits that offset many of the concerns raised.

– The sourcing found throughout the report is almost completely
one-sided. Aside from the Environmental Protection Agency and
restaurants whose sushi was tested by the Times, the only sources
consulted are experts with clear self-interests and or activist groups
engaged in both lobbying and fundraising against coal fired power
plants, a source of mercury. Examples include:

—-Despite the availability of well regarded, independent,
objective laboratories Burros chose to have her Sushi samples tested by
Dr. Michael Gochfeld. As part of his own work Gochfeld treats patients
for issues related to mercury. Because Gochfelds research and practice
stands to benefit from alarmist stories about mercury he should not be
considered an objective clinician in this case.

Mahaffey from the EPA tells readers that a rise in blood mercury levels
in this country appears to be related to Americans eating fish that
are higher in mercury. This is pure speculation and is in fact refuted
by the latest consumption data that shows lower mercury seafood like
shrimp, salmon and tilapia are some of the most popular.

Defense is a political activist group with scant expertise in the
medical science of food consumption. Burros omits mention of their
fundraising agenda, instead describing them disingenuously as
work[ing]to improve human health. Yet, the advice they offer is
at odds with what every major medical, health and government agency has
publicly recommended.

-Throughout the article there is a sensational mischaracterization
of the RfD (reference dose). Burros suggests that people who eat a
certain number of pieces of sushi are at risk of exceeding EPAs
reference dose level. It does not mention that those guidelines are
based on consumption over ones entire lifetime and not merely a
certain number of days or weeks. Nor does it mention the built in
ten-fold safety factor.

-In mentioning the levels of mercury found in the samples
tested Burros fails to explain that the FDAs Action Level is a
calculated estimate that also includes a ten-fold safety factor.

For more than 60 years, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI)
and its members have provided American families with the variety of
sustainable seafood essential to a healthy diet. For more information

For more information, Gavin Gibbons at (703) 752-8891 or via email a

Contact Information

Gavin Gibbons
(703) 752-8891