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Fish and seafood consumption in Norway

19.03.2013 // The Norwegian health authorities’ general recommendation is to increase the consumption of fish, both for dinner and as spread. This recommendation applies especially to those who currently eat no or very little fish as part of their diet.

Based on a comprehensive assessment of the nutritional benefits of consuming seafood compared with the health risks associated with the intake of contaminants and other undesirable substances that seafood may contain, as well as on knowledge of seafood consumption in the Norwegian diet, the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) supports the advice from the health authorities.  The report concluded that consumption of fatty fish in particular provides important nutrients such as vitamin D and marine n-3 fatty acids. The consumption of fish in general and marine n-3 fatty acids in particular is important in preventing and impeding the development of cardiovascular disease. Marine n-3 fatty acids are also important during pregnancy and for foetal development. 

Knowledge of young women’s consumption of fatty fish gives little reason to believe that a general recommendation to increase fish consumption would result in fertile women consuming so much fatty fish that the intake of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs over a long period would exceed the tolerable intake (TWI) and consequently constitute a health risk to the foetus. Children may exceed TWI due to intake through their diet, but for most children in the 2-13 year age range, other foods than fish are the dominant source of these substances. 

A continued reduction in the level of potentially health-damaging substances in fish and other seafood is advisable. The effect of introducing restrictions on the discharge of contaminants will only be witnessed after an extensive period of time for wild-caught fish and seafood.  However, levels of organic pollutants such as dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in farmed fish and cod liver oil may be influenced within a reasonable time frame.

Several other countries as well as FAO/WHO have conducted similar assessments.

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