One Fish, Two Fish, Poison Fish

Bill calls for health warnings on certain types of fish

There's solid scientific evidence that large predatory fish, such as king mackerel and swordfish, contain increasingly high levels of methylmercury, a pollutant that can cause birth and developmental defects. On April 20, the House debated House Bill 681, requiring fish retailers to display a specifically worded sign warning pregnant women about the risks of eating those fish. (It leaves the size and design of the sign up to the Department of State Health Services and only applies to retailers, not restaurants.) Several GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, said they were concerned a sign could discourage people from eating any fish. Saying the sign actually encourages people to eat safer kinds of fish, such as tilapia, bill author Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, dryly noted, "Mr. Chisum, I assure you this does not affect the fishing industry in the Panhandle." The bill passed out of the House 99-45 and now heads to the Senate.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

food safety, fish, 81st Legislature

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