Eat fish safely this summer


There might be a catch to your catch.

Fish is a great source of protein and a heart-healthy option for many; however, there’s also too much of a good thing. Whether you’re the one casting the line or the one preparing the meal, there are some potential hazards that come with consuming fish, according to the Michigan State University Extension service.

While the lakes and rivers across Michigan are teeming with a wide variety of native fish, there may be identified toxins in some fish that could pose health risks, wrote Diane Rellinger, MSU Extension educator.

Chemicals like PCBs and dioxins are linked to cancer, diabetes and other illnesses. Mercury can cause damage to your brain and nerves. Rellinger suggested using the Eat Safe Fish Guide published by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to determine the right amount of fish to eat each month.

The state department puts out five different guides that break down the entire state into regions, describing the fish found in lakes and streams for each county in that region as well as a definition of the recommended portion size of fish (called the MI Serving).

Ingham County is included in the regional Eat Safe Fish Guide for southwest Michigan. The guide details the types of fish, the chemicals of concern and the monthly MI Serving recommendations for Fidelity Lake, various sections of the Grand River, Lake Lansing and the Red Cedar River.

The MI Serving recommendations include an 8-ounce portion for those 180 pounds, a 4-ounce portion for those 90 pounds and a 2-ounce portion for those 45 pounds. For every 20 pounds less than the weight recommendations, subtract an ounce of fish, For every 20 pounds more, add an ounce of fish.

Pregnant woman are advised to use their pre-pregnancy weight in determining portion size.

“Following the safe fish guidelines are especially important for several groups of people, including young children, youth under the age of 15 and individuals with weakened immune systems,” Rellinger wrote. “Women who plan to conceive within several years should be well informed about which fish are not safe to eat to help prevent complications during pregnancy and to their future child. Based on your health status, you may need to avoid certain fish or eat them only occasionally rather than regularly.”

To get a free Eat Safe Fish Guide for various regions of Michigan, call 800-648-6942 or visit


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