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The Dirty Dozen – 12 Different Fish to Avoid

The Dirty Dozen - 12 Different Fish to Avoid

While many of us are familiar with the Dirty Dozen, the toxic fruits and vegetables to avoid as compiled by the Environmental Working Group, there is a lot of uncertainty and confusion as to what fish are healthy to eat. One of my favorite non-profits, Food & Water Watch, has addressed this problem and come […]

Fish
LivingMaxwell.com

While many of us are familiar with the Dirty Dozen, the toxic fruits and vegetables to avoid as compiled by the Environmental Working Group, there is a lot of uncertainty and confusion as to what fish are healthy to eat.

One of my favorite non-profits, Food & Water Watch, has addressed this problem and come out with their own Dirty Dozen but for fish. These are the fish that they give a big thumbs down to.

1. Atlantic cod

2. Atlantic flatfish, e.g. Atlantic halibut, flounders and sole

3. Caviar, especially from beluga and other wild-caught sturgeon

4. Chilean seabass

5. Eel

6. Farmed salmon, often called “Atlantic salmon.” (Tip: don’t be fooled by “organic” salmon – it’s usually farmed internationally and not certified by U.S. standards.)

7. Imported Basa/Swai/Tra: (Tip: These are often called “catfish” — ask where it is from and check country of origin labels.)

8. Imported farmed shrimp

9. Imported king crab

10. Orange roughy

11. Sharks

12. Tunas, especially Atlantic bluefin (Pacific albacore and Atlantic skipjack are exempted)

These fish are on this list for one or a few of the following reasons:

– The fish contains mercury or PCBs that can cause serious health problems.

– The fish is imported from countries where health, environmental or safety standards for growing or catching fish are weak and/or non-existent.

– Many wild fish are managed poorly, are caught using gear that can hurt habitat and other wildlife, and/or the stocks are becoming depleted.

Less than 2% of imported fish to the U.S. is tested for contamination.

Food & Water Watch also provides a list of safer and more sustainable options. Click HERE to see a PDF of this Seafood Card. What you will see is very, very interesting and will be sure to make you think twice the next time you order or buy fish.

Just wanted to mention this: I have had extensive conversations with the people at Food & Water Watch, and they are doing some fantastic work on behalf of people who care about quality food and water. Please support them.

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11 Comments

  • Mau says:

    Love your site
    What is wrote with eating Orange Roughy & Tile fish?
    Please explain as we’ve been eating them for years
    Thanks

  • LJB says:

    It’s really a shame we have to have these lists because man has made the fish unsuitable to eat . Either man has polluted the fish environment or has concocted some type of chemical that once again- pollutes. When the fish were created Iam sure the original intent was for consumption. However thanks to man, we corrupted another thing we need to survive. It seems big corporations or the culprits responsible won’t be satisfied until we’re all eating “Soylent Green”

  • Bill Michael says:

    “…I can’t disagree with you. The standards in the U.S. are not as good as in Europe. They are much stricter and less corrupt than we are when it comes to food safety….”

    SO SAD.

  • vincent says:

    just a heads up that the link above no longer works, but this info is great. Thank you!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Vincent,

      Thanks so much for the words, I appreciate it. Also, I just checked the links and they all worked for me. Which one did you have trouble with?

      Live well,
      Max

  • Debora says:

    Hi Max,

    I love your site! Can you tell me what fish is safe to eat? I see your DD list.

    Thanks so much

    Debora

  • Naomi says:

    Hi Max,

    Your site is very informative. We live in Europe and are led to believe that Atlantic cod is actually one of the best fish to eat as it is apparently not farmed fish. Could you please explain specifically why it is on the list here?

    Thanks,
    Naomi

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Naomi,

      Thanks for your kind words about my site.

      Atlantic Cod fails the Food & Water Watch’s two criteria of safe and sustainable fish.

      “The Atlantic cod stock collapsed in the early 1990s and is currently undergoing overfishing. It is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species is frequently caught using bottom or otter trawls, nets that drag along the seafloor, and can damage the bottom habitat and remove or cover animals and plant life. This fishing method also can result in the unintended capture of many other types of marine life (bycatch).”

      Live well,
      Max

  • Tripp says:

    Max, many thanks for the list. However I would like to emphasize that what you called “US standards” have always been lagging when it comes to the safety and quality of food.

    I am not familiar with fish standards in particular, but for food in general there much to be improved in North America in order to get close to Europe.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Tripp,

      I can’t disagree with you. The standards in the U.S. are not as good as in Europe. They are much stricter and less corrupt than we are when it comes to food safety.

      Thanks for your input.

      Live well,
      Max

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