State Addresses Mercury Levels in Ahi

(KHNL)  Studies found that big-eye tuna, or ahi, has higher levels of mercury that first thought, and the Food and Drug Administration is warning those in "high risk groups" not to eat the fish.

Those include pregnant women, women who may be pregnant, and young children.

"I think it's a good word of caution but I wanna make sure that people just don't stop eating fish," said Lance Wong, supervisor of the state Department of Health's Food and Drug branch. "I think the benefits of eating fish far outweighs the risks."

High levels of mercury effects the nervous system, and could effect brain development.

Wong said it's not known how much mercury it takes for someone to get sick. He said the key is moderation.

"For the average adult, it shouldn't be a problem," he said.

And that's good news for fish lovers in Hawaii.

"So as much as I can afford em, I eat em," said Louis Silva of Kaneohe, while picking up lunch at Alicia's Market. "I bought quarter pound of the wasabi masago ahi poke. That's pretty tasty. But any kine fish is tasty to me."

"I think about it, but I don't worry about it too much," said Gene Gillis. "I figure that fish gets tested."

"Jjust like we all know there's salmonella in chicken, there might be e coli in hamburger," said Wong. "But it doesn't stop us from eating it, but just be aware of the risks."

Wong said people should be more concerned that the fish is being kept at the right temperature, and the people handling it are washing their hands.

"If you catching them from Pearl Harbor I wouldn't eat um," said Silva.

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