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Some studies warn of sushi, fish consumption

In spite of recent concerns of high mercury levels in sushi, a University of Miami expert on the subject said he still eats it everyday and loves it.

“They serve it at the cafeteria here at Jackson,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, director of the Florida Poison Control Center and a toxicologist at the Miller School of Medicine. “My wife ate fish when she was pregnant-my kids are great! The benefits of eating fish outweigh the disadvantages,

But on the other hand, high levels of mercury in fish can be harmful when consumed by pregnant women, women of childbearing age and children. A recent study, done by Oceana, a non-profit ocean conservation organization, showed that there are high levels of mercury in fish amongst many cities in the United States, including Miami.

At the Olo sushi bar at the food court, the concern of mercury in fish has caused some students to stop buying.

“We used to sell 10-12 packs per day, but now we sell 8 packs, sometimes 10 packs of tuna rolls,” said Nyo Than, Olo franchise owner.

Than explained that students have not spoken directly about the mercury issue with any employees at the Sushi bar, but he has overheard students exchanging worries by the counter.

Still, many students agree that [eating] fish is beneficial to their health.

“I heard that there were concerns of mercury levels in fish in the Miami area but I haven’t really been [worried] about it,” said sophomore Kendall Sale.

Bernstein, who takes care of patients with mercury toxins over at Jackson Memorial Hospital, said he will continue to eat fish, and he thinks people have nothing to worry about.

“I’ve taken care of body builders who eat tuna for every meal because it has high protein and low fat,” he said. “They have huge levels of mercury in their body but it doesn’t seem to show any side effect.”

And at 1.0 parts per million or less of mercury levels in fish, the FDA will continue to permit its consumption.

Yessica Salazar may be contacted at y.salazar@umiami.edu

February 7, 2008

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