The Truth About Fish

Eating oil-rich varieties of fish like salmon, sardines, and trout is important to your good-health, but fish can contain contaminants that could harm your baby during pregnancy or while you are nursing. Chemical pollutants may cause birth defects, liver damage, and other serious health problems.

The following information is important to help you make sound decisions about buying and eating fish.

  • Pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children should not to eat shark, swordfish, kink mackerel, or tilefish. (FDA)
  • Women of child-bearing age can safely eat up to an average of 12 ounces a week of other types of cooked fish from a store or restaurant. (FDA)
  • Women of child-bearing age should not eat more than 6 ounces in a week of cooked fish, that are caught in local waters.  (EPA)
  • Young children should not eat more than 2 ounces in a week of cooked fish, that are caught in local waters. (EPA)

Additional guidance on the proper selection, cleaning and cooking of noncommercial fish is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the brochure “Should I Eat the Fish I Catch’: A guide to healthy eating of fish you catch”. You can receive a free copy of the guide by calling 1-800-490-9198 and requesting document number EPA 823-B-97-009, or by visiting the EPA internet site at