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Think Twice About Going Out For Sushi

I'm really bummed by this because I'm a huge sushi fan. But the NY Times ran an investigative piece (reg. req'd) on the dangerously high levels of

I'm really bummed by this because I'm a huge sushi fan. But the NY Times ran an investigative piece (reg. req'd) on the dangerously high levels of mercury in tuna used in 20 Manhattan sushi bars and restaurants. Just six pieces of this sushi a week would exceed levels set by the EPA:

Sushi from 5 of the 20 places had mercury levels so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market. The sushi was bought by The New York Times in October.

Unfortunately, the NY Times doesn't really go into how that mercury got into the tuna in the first place.

To understand how mercury contaminates fish, consider the mercury cycle. It begins with mercury being emitted to the atmosphere by sources such as coal-burning power plants. The mercury washes out of the air with precipitation and comes down on land and water.

Here's the perfect example of how de-regulation and embracing of conservative free market principles are completely unsustainable: we're now poisoning our food, and ourselves. But don't tell that to Rick Berman, who sent out a press release demanding that the NY Times retract the article.

“Yellow(fin) journalism like this does a great disservice to ordinary consumers,” added Martosko. “Study after study shows that the documented health benefits of eating fish far outweigh any hypothetical risks. I know the Times is losing money and cutting costs, but maybe they shouldn’t have cut back on their scientific research budget.”

Yeah, I'm going to trust a lobbyist funded by Phillip Morris for all my healthful diet choices. Newsweek's Sharon Begley takes apart Berman point by point.

So when the Center for Consumer Freedom sent me (and probably scores of other reporters) a press release slamming yesterday’s New York Times story chronicling the high mercury levels the newspaper found in tuna sushi served in New York City restaurants and sold in upscale stores, I didn’t reflexively think, “oh, this is the group jump-started with a pile of money from a tobacco giant.” I didn’t think, “this is the group whose leader promised said tobacco company, Philip Morris, ‘to unite the restaurant and hospitality industries in a campaign to defend their consumers and marketing programs against attacks from anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-meat, etc. activists.’” I didn’t automatically recall the Washington Post editorial citing “documents showing that Coca-Cola, Wendy's, Tyson Foods, Cargill and Outback Steakhouse are among [founder Rick] Berman's largest donors.” I didn’t automatically recall that Berman had, as the Post reported, “accused Mothers Against Drunk Driving a. . . of ‘junk science, intimidation tactics, and even threats of violence to push their radical agenda.’” (I found those references only later.)

She actually gets into the science part to show that once again, free market principles to Berman means that consumers should have the right to allow companies to do their work unfettered by the concern that they may be poisoning the populace.

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