How to Follow Advisories

What is an advisory?

Watch our video How to Use Fish Advisories

Advisories—or “safe eating guidelines”—from OEHHA recommend how often you can safely eat certain types of fish from water bodies in California.

Most advisories are issued because of mercury in fish.

In a few places, fish are contaminated with PCBs or other chemicals.

OEHHA gives two sets of guidelines for fish, one for each population:

  • Women 18–45 years and children 1–17 years
  • Men 18 years and older and women 46 years and older

Unborn babies and children are most sensitive to the possible health effects from eating fish with mercury and PCBs.  Chemicals like mercury and PCB can cause learning problems in babies and children.

Women ages 18 – 45 years and children 1 – 17 years should eat fish less often (compared to men 18 years and older and women 46 years and older) to protect babies and children. 

Mercury builds up in the body, so women ages 18-45 years should eat low mercury fish to protect their baby in case they become pregnant.

How contaminated are the fish?

OEHHA’s advisory materials divide fish into three categories based on their level of contamination.

chemical meters showing low, medium and high levels of contamination

Fish in the green group have a low level of mercury or another chemical. Fish in the yellow group have a medium chemical level. Fish in the red group have a high chemical level.

Follow the advice (number of servings per week) under each panel.

But don't combine the servings.  For example, if you eat a fish in the 1 serving a week group, wait until the next week to eat another fish.  Do not eat other fish from that group, another group, or another water body until the next week.

If you choose fish that can be eaten 3 servings per week, you can combine fish species from that group for a total of 3 servings in that week.

serving sizes - The recommended serving of fish is about the size and thickness of your hand.  Give children smaller servings.

Eating fish provides health benefits.

heartFish with a pink heart have high levels of omega-3s
and you can eat them at least once a week.

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats, and fish is a major source of these essential fats.
Eating fish with omega-3s can lower heart disease in adults and help babies’ brains and eyes develop.