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Fish: To eat or not to eat

1f923e7308e07554a816ae9b3034088aTORI J. NORRIS | The Greenville Standard

Fish is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals and are believed to provide protection from heart disease. However, fish can become unhealthy to eat based on environmental health hazards.

Each year the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) annually distributes fish consumption advisories based on data collected by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

This past fall, ADEM collected 597 samples of fish from 52 bodies of water throughout the state of Alabama. ADPH then tested each fish for contaminants that may give rise to potential human health effects.

There are three primary contaminants of fish: mercury, PCBs and pesticides.

While no bodies of water were tested in Butler County, four bodies of water in Covington County were tested and advisories were issued for mercury. If you fish at Frank Jackson Reservoir, do not eat any largemouth bass based on the amount of mercury found.

There have been no restrictions placed on channel catfish caught at Gantt Reservoir, but you should limit yourself to two meals a month for largemouth bass.

Lake Jackson on the Alabama/Florida line was tested and the ADPH advises you to not eat largemouth bass caught. Three species of fish were tested from Yellow River.

It is recommend to avoid consuming largemouth bass and spotted bass due to the amount of mercury and limit consumption of spotted sucker to two meals a month. Sepulga River near Brooklyn was also tested. The ADPH recommends not eating any species of fish from this body of water due to the mercury content.

When using fish for meals, the ADPH also has shared information on safe ways to prepare fish. First, you want to keep fish cold until ready to cook. When consuming fish, only eat thoroughly cooked fish and only eat the fillet portions of fish. Contaminants that may come from the environment can accumulate in fatty tissues. Filleting removes fat that is located in the belly flats and along the lateral line of the back. Finally, use low-fat cooking methods like broiling, grilling, poaching and steaming. Frying and adding butter and other rich sauces during or after preparation takes away the heart health benefits of eating fish and adds many calories.

For more information about other bodies of water tested in the state, you can visit the ADPH website at or call 1-800-201-8208.

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