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Safely serving seafood to children

August 1, 2014

Many doctors, health experts, and nutritionists alike agree that fish makes a wonderful addition to just about any diet.

For the developing minds and bodies of young children, fish provides unbeatable nourishment, and acts as a fantastic source of protein, vitamin D, iodine, and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Together, these substances support the development of a healthy nervous system, robust circulatory system and strong muscle structure for your children.

However, there are some risks to consider, and it’s important to recognise that some fish can contain toxic elements and should be limited in any diet; especially the diet of young children. An excellent example of one of these potentially harmful elements is mercury.

When it is consumed in small amounts, mercury is not a harmful substance. However, when levels are allowed to build up within the body, it can lead to serious problems. What’s more, high volumes of mercury can prove harmful to unborn babies and damage their developing nervous systems.

To keep children as safe as possible, it is important to monitor their diets and ensure mercury levels are kept to a minimum.

Fish that contain high amounts of mercury

Certain types of fish contain higher amounts of mercury than others. Generally, the riskiest fish are those with longer life spans. The longer the fish lives, the more mercury is able to accumulate. These species include fish such as perch, catfish, swordfish, marlin, and shark. It is generally recommended that children and pregnant women avoid eating these fish entirely.

In regards to a child’s diet, servings of other types of fish should be limited to two or three a week. On average, the correct serving size for a very young child is about 75 grams, but when children reach six years old this amount can be adjusted to 150 grams per week – the same size adults should adhere to.

For long-life fish that are more likely to contain high levels of mercury, consumption should be limited to no more than one serving a week.