Small kids should eat only small fish to avoid building up dangerously high levels of mercury, Australian health officials warned on Sunday following research on three Asian families who fed their children a rice and fish porridge called congee.
Their children, aged 15 months to two years, who had eaten congee - known as juk in Korea and chao in Vietnam - had up to five times normal mercury levels, according to a report in the Medical Journal of Australia. Stephen Corbett, a doctor with the Sydney West Area Health Service, told reporters that fish of the right type in the right quantity was good for children’s nutrition.
“Two to three portions a week and small fish for small fry,” he advised, warning that mercury at even relatively low levels could affect children’s development.
Fish to avoid
Dr Lisa Szabo, chief scientist of the New South Wales Food Authority, said that parents had to worry about only six types of fish: shark, broadbill, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and catfish.
“In part it’s because they’re bigger,” she said. “But they’re also longer-lived and they’re predatory fish, which means that they eat a lot of small fish so that’s why they tend to accumulate the mercury.”