State Health Department officials issued a reminder to pregnant and nursing women to avoid eating Pacific blue marlin after laboratory testing of marlin jerky showed “low levels” of methylmercury.
The department sent samples of marlin jerky from Asia Trans Co. in Kailua-Kona to a lab in California. The samples were taken in November, with the final results received only recently, officials said. The results showed high levels of total mercury, but levels of methylmercury, which studies show can harm a baby’s growing brain and nervous system, lower than the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory maximum.
The tests show 0.31 parts per million of methylmercury. The FDA’s regulatory maximum for methylmercury is one part per million. Overall mercury levels were 0.6 to 2.2 parts per million.
Gary Gill, deputy director for environmental health, said the findings “are consistent with earlier results that show most mercury in Pacific blue marlin is the less toxic form; eating moderate amounts of marlin jerky is safe for the general public.”
The state has a guide for pregnant woman and young children to follow to reduce the health risk from mercury. The pamphlet is available at hawaii.gov/health/family-child-health/wic/wic/nutrition_information/wic/nutrition_information/mercury.pdf.