Reporters Butt-Selfie Expertise Surprisingly Doesnt Qualify Her to Give Important Nutrition Advice to Pregnant Women

February 26, 2014

Alex Crees
Health Editor
Fox News Online
1211 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10036

Dear Ms. Crees,

I am writing with some editorial concerns about an article featured on your website, The 5 fish that are most contaminatedand 5 you should eat instead. The content of the article flies in the face of nutrition recommendations from the federal government and international agencies. Misleading and out-of-context statements about fish do a fundamental disservice to Fox News readers, and specifically pregnant women.

To begin, its important to note that no seafood species is off limits for the general population, according to the U.S. Government. In fact, the USDAs 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) urge Americans to increase the amount and variety of seafood they eat. With regards to trace amounts of naturally-occurring mercury found in fish, the DGAs say, consistent evidence shows that the health benefits from consuming a variety of seafood in the amounts recommended outweigh the health risks associated with methyl mercury. Your current headline fails to explain that the recommendation referred to is only for a sub-population of pregnant women.

Specific to pregnancy, the DGAs recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women eat between 8 and 12 ounces of seafood a week, and avoid just four rarely-eaten species: shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. The DGAs say, Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA, from at least 8 ounces of seafood per week for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is associated with improved infant health outcomes, such as visual and cognitive development.

However, in your report author Esther Crain of Womens Health disregards the vast amount of sound, peer-reviewed science encompassed in the DGAs when she writes, Its crucial that you avoid ingesting [mercury] even if theres a chance you could become a mom soon.

Throughout her recommendations Ms. Crain includes alarmist and sensational language. She notes that king mackerel is on the do-not-eat list unless you want to risk mercury poisoning. Actually, minimal research by this reporter would reveal there is not a single case of mercury poisoning due to the normal consumption of commercial seafood (like king mackerel) in any peer-reviewed published medical journal.

Its concerning to see Fox News source important nutrition recommendations from an author with no background in nutrition. Ms. Crain has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Journalism and has a round-up of articles like 8 Celebrity Butt Selfiesand What You Can Learn from Them and Should I Worry About Eyelash Extensions? Hardly the credentials to be advising pregnant women on vital nutrition information.

A scare-mongering article like this does a fundamental disservice to pregnant women, a group who are already deficient in seafood, consuming less than 2 ounces a week. Excluding information about the clear benefits pregnant women and their children receive from consuming 8-12 ounces of fish a week (as recommended by published federal nutrition policy) and solely focusing on the four to avoid is irresponsible and biased reporting. We ask that you remove this article from Fox News, or re-post with crucial information about the benefits of pregnant women consuming seafood.

Please let me know how you plan to address these editorial issues. I look forward to hearing from you.

Lynsee Fowler
Communications Manager
National Fisheries Institute

cc: George Kindel

Managing Editor