Focus Pocus

Internal documents reveal that the FDA is failing in its public health obligation to warn pregnant women about mercury in tuna.

March 1, 2002

Focus Pocus: Table 2: The FDA withholds information from pregnant women on mercury-contaminated fish, citing "focus groups" as justification

Table 2

Only 7 individual remarks in all 267 pages of final focus group transcripts support FDA's claims.

Focus group participant Context of remark or type of person who made the remark What the participant said Reference
Monica Pregnant woman "...if you can eat enough of the low to make it medium or high. I probably won't eat any type of seafood for the rest of my pregnancy...and I will be an advocate out there telling all pregnant women, stay away from fish." 2 (pg 40)
Name not given Pregnant woman "Right. That's why I said: I just wouldn't eat any fish at all, period. You never know how much of the low that you eat could be high." 2 (pp 47-8)
Shawna Pregnant woman "I'm going to stay away from fish." 2 (pg 42)
Shawna Pregnant woman "I would respond by not buying any more fish sticks and substituting fish sticks for something else on the menu." 2 (pg 49)
Trevor Father with 3 kids ages 5, 12, and 13. Pretending to be a pregnant woman. "I would not eat fish for the first trimester." 1 (pg 24)
Name not given Pretending to be a pregnant woman. "I might find other ways to get the nutrients, without even risking the fish." 1 (pg 29)
Name not given Pretending to be a pregnant woman. "I would simply say, okay, avoid fish. I wouldn't eat it at all if I were pregnant." 3 (pg 56)

Source: Environmental Working Group. Compiled from FDA focus group transcripts. 1 - Macro International, Inc. 2000i - Boston, Nov 8, 8pm. 2 - Macro International, Inc. 2000j - Calverton, MD, Nov 14, 6pm. 3 - Macro International, Inc. 2000k - Calverton, MD, Nov 14, 8pm.