NATIONAL UNIFORMITY FOR FOOD ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 08, 2006)
Mr. Chairman, Members, I ask your support of my amendment, which will add State fish and shellfish methylmercury notification laws to this act's current list of exemptions.
The gentleman from Georgia outlined that if there is a problem with any food, that we should have national notification so that everyone in America may be notified regarding those concerns. The problem in particular when you are talking about fish and shellfish is that much of the problem deals with recreational fishing. So, for example, in Georgia, you might have a different level of mercury in the lakes and rivers there as opposed to the level of mercury in the lakes and rivers in Michigan. So it is imperative that we have the ability to notify, under a State's discretion the level of mercury poisoning and the caution and concern that those residents should have in that particular State.
Methylmercury poisoning is a growing crisis in our country. The FDA recommends that pregnant women completely stop eating larger predatory fish, because the average methylmercury content per serving is so high that just one male is unhealthy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children and pregnant women can have significant exposure if they consume excess amounts of fish. Several States have begun to address current mercury levels. In fact, 44 States have issued some form of a methylmercury advisory.
Members, I know you all share my concern for our children's health and well-being. This amendment will not undermine the sponsor's intent. There are other exemptions in this bill. If there is any substance that we exempt and ensure that there can be differing levels of advisories across the country, it is methylmercury poisoning.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, a woman who does not have access to prenatal care, who does not know that she is pregnant, who already has a high level of mercury poisoning in her bloodstream, as many, many women across this country do, and then becomes pregnant and continues to consume high levels of oil-based fish, how is that woman supposed to be advised that she should not continue to eat tuna, mackerel, salmon without going to the doctor? Is she likely to have access to a computer and the FDA's Website to get that warning? I really doubt it.
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One of the things I want to point out that I think is important to note is that the petition process that the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Deal) pointed out, that whole process has been scored by the GPO. They have estimated that it would cost $400,000 per petition.
Should we be creating the obstacles to information that women need? I will give you an example. I have a 2 1/2 -year-old baby girl, and I first found out about the dangers of methylmercury when I was pregnant with her and my OB-GYN told me, do not consume tuna. Do not consume any oily-based fish.
Think about someone who does not have the access to prenatal care that I had. We have absolutely got to make sure that depending on the levels of mercury poisoning in a particular body of water in different States, that each State be able to decide the type and method of information that they provide, and that we not leave only the ability to notify women and parents of young children about the dangers of methylmercury on a Web site put out by the FDA. That would be inappropriate.