Mercury Megadose? No Proof in Sight

While I couldn’t make the test results or the University that did the testing public I did share the results and the University with Ret Talbot. Who wrote an article with is take this situation and the data behind it [sic]. Now I was painted as the man who cried wolf but that is just one mans [sic] take on it.

—Thomas Brown of Thomas Vision Reef

On Monday, April 20, 2015, CORAL Magazine published my article titled “Crying Wolf: Mercury in Aquarium Fish Foods, Social Media and the Controversy that Shouldn’t Have Been”regarding a report that a popular but unnamed frozen fish food contained extremely high levels of mercury. In my coverage, I concluded that the claim, which was made by Thomas Brown of Thomas Vision Reef, a YouTube “aquarium web series,” was unsubstantiated and highly suspect. After my article was published, Brown revealed he had sent the report’s results to me before I published, writing on a blog he created for discussing the issue:

While I couldn’t make the test results or the University that did the testing public I did share the results and the University with Ret Talbot. Who wrote an article with is take this situation and the data behind it. Now I was painted as the man who cried wolf but that is just one mans take on it.

Since Brown published this statement, I have received numerous inquiries about the test results. The purpose of this blog entry is to respond to those inquiries as best as I am able, and bring readers up to speed on the most recent developments in this ongoing story. To briefly recap the story, the allegations of high mercury concentrations in a popular frozen fish food came Friday, April 17, 2015, from Brown, who claimed tests he commissioned with an associate, performed by “a local university,” yielded a result estimated to be in excess of 20mg per gram of mercury in a sampled fish food. Given that this result is 20,000 times the FDA threshold for human consumption and more than 10,000 times greater than concentrations of mercury in the most mercury-laden fish included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mercury in commercial seafood database, Brown’s allegations received immediate attention. They were extraordinary–sensational, even. As a journalist who covers fisheries issues and seafood, including several stories about mercury in seafood, I was very interested in the claims being made by Brown.

A Data-Centric Story

I knew immediately that telling this story needed to be about the data, so I obviously wanted to…

[Read the Full Story at Reef to Rainforest]

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About Ret Talbot

Ret Talbot is a freelance writer who covers fisheries at the intersection of science and sustainability. His work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Mongabay, Discover Magazine, Ocean Geographic and Coral Magazine. He lives on the coast of Maine with his wife, scientific illustrator Karen Talbot.
This entry was posted in Mercury, Ornamental Fisheries. Bookmark the permalink.

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