The Beacon

Costco Will Post FDA Warnings

A Supersized Victory! Costco, the wholesaler whose buy-in-bulk warehouses make some swoon and others swear, has committed to warn its customers about mercury contamination in fish. Costco will post the FDA's mercury advice on signs at seafood counters in all its stores.

With this victory, 36% of major grocery stores nationwide are posting the FDA advice. Washington State now ranks first in the nation for warning shoppers about mercury, with 95 percent of grocery stores posting the FDA advice. Oregon and Nevada follow close behind, while mercury warning signs are almost non-existent in stores in other states, such as Florida and Oklahoma.

Since 2001, the FDA has issued advice about mercury in fish. In 2004, the EPA and FDA issued a joint warning for women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children to avoid eating swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel, and to limit consumption of albacore tuna and tuna steaks to 6 ounces per week or less. The agencies also advised them to eat up to 12 ounces (2 typical meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury. (Mercury is a known neurotoxin that can harm normal brain development in children and may harm adult cardiopulmonary health.)

So while the chances are better on the west coast and worse in other states, on average, a U.S. consumer has about a one in three chance of walking into a major grocery store and seeing the FDA advice posted at the point of sale.

For more information about our efforts to improve consumer awareness of U.S. government advice about the risks of eating mercury contaminated seafood, read our new report, Super Markets.

Next challenge: getting Wal-Mart and Publix on board...

[Image: Ed Betz/AP]


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