Industry Tackles Incorrect TV Advice on Eating Fish

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
4 June 2010, at 1:00am

US - The seafood industry has joined a growing chorus of critics taking a television doctor to task for questionable advice about consuming fish, nutrition and mercury.

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is publicly challenging Dr Mehmet Oz, host of the 'Dr Oz Show', to correct a number of errors and distortions that he made concerning fish, nutrition and mercury on a recent episode of his show.

Earlier this year, NFI sent several letters to Dr Oz pointing out, among others, the following errors contained in a programme that was televised nationally on 26 January 2010 and is scheduled to be re-run nationwide last night (3 June).

Firstly, Dr Oz told his viewers that mercury in fish was a concern for the general population, an assertion that is clearly contradicted by the advice of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that says, "for most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern."

Second, Dr Oz also incorrectly asserted that the methyl mercury found in seafood enters the food chain because of man-made pollution, when in fact those trace amounts are primarily from sources like underwater volcanic activity. A scientific fact recently buttressed by two rulings in the California courts that found that the vast majority of mercury in seafood was 'naturally occurring'.

And third, Dr Oz also interviewed activist Dr Jane Hightower about her mercury-focused practice and her pet diagnosis of 'fish fog', but nowhere did he mention that there have been no cases of mercury poisoning, as the result of the normal consumption of commercial seafood., found in peer-reviewed medical journals in the US.

Despite repeatedly bringing this to his attention, Dr Oz refused to substantively answer NFI's questions and instead responded with a letter from the programme's attorney. When NFI learned of ZoCo Production's intention to re-run the programme, it sent yet another letter to which the company has yet to respond.

NFI joins a growing chorus of critics who are finding fault with many of the doctor's methods. An April 2010 profile in the New York Times Magazine observed that the pressures of producing a daily television show had led Dr Oz to dispense 'a chaotic bazaar of advice, not all of it equally reliable and important'. Another article that appeared that same month in the Chicago Tribune concluded that, 'Oz's ventures also offer advice unsupported by science'.