Fish Consumption Guidelines

Ways to Reduce Your Risk

Keep smaller fish for eating.

Generally, larger, older fish may be more contaminated than younger, smaller fish. You can minimize your health risk by eating smaller fish (that are within legal size limits) and releasing the larger fish.

Vary the kinds of fish you eat.

Contaminants build up in large predators and bottom-feeding fish, like bass and catfish, more rapidly than in other species.  By substituting a few meals of bream and other panfish, like crappie, you can reduce your risk.

Eat smaller meals when you eat big fish and eat them less often.

If you catch a big fish, freeze part of the catch (mark the container or wrapping with species and location), and space the meals from this fish over a period of time.

Clean and cook your fish properly.

How you clean and cook your fish can reduce the level of contaminants by as much as half in some fish.  Some chemicals have a tendency to concentrate in the fatty tissues of fish.  By removing the fish's skin and trimming fillets according to the following diagram, you can reduce the level of chemicals substantially.  Mercury is bound to the meat of the fish, so these precautions will not help reduce this contaminant.

Remove the skin from fillets and steaks.

The internal organs (intestines, liver, roe, and so forth) and skin are often high in fat and contaminants.

Trim off the fatty areas shown in black on the drawing.

These include the belly fat, side or body fat, and the flesh along the top of the back.  Careful trimmint can reduce some contaminants by 25 to 50%.

Cook fish so fat drips away.

Broil, bake, or grill fish and do not use the drippings. Deep-fat frying removes some contaminants, but discard the oil once you have cooked the fish. Pan frying removes few, if any, contaminants.

Trim away these fatty areas:

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