Don’t Allow Toxic Fish in School Lunches


Target: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, First District of Maine

Goal: Prevent toxic fish from becoming a regular part of Portland Public School lunches

According to an article in the magazine Discover, the Portland Public School district seeks to incorporate local foods into the lunches that it provides for its students. Due to the state’s location in New England, a local specialty is fish. However, many fish species have catch limits in order to prevent them from going extinct.

These catch limits have resulted in more undesirable species, like the Atlantic spiny dogfish, being pushed upon school districts because they are more readily available and are cheaper. Nearly 20 members of Congress from the North Eastern regions of the United States previously wrote to the U.S Department of Agriculture to ask that the Atlantic spiny dogfish be purchased and then delivered to school lunch programs as well as other federal programs.

However, herein lies the problem: the Atlantic spiny dogfish are undesirable because they are unsanitary. According to research, the dogfish, which basically urinates in its own flesh, possesses high enough mercury levels that make it unsafe for women of childbearing age and children to eat, according to the FDA.

The Portland Public School District, as part of its commitment to the local food movement, has committed to serving fish once a month. Even once a month is one time too many for young children to begin eating dogfish. Help us ask a Maine congresswoman for help in ensuring the dogfish does not become an integral part of school lunches.


Dear Congresswoman Pingree,

According to your website, you recently opposed reducing school nutrition standards. Regardless of whether you were one of the 19 members of Congress who wrote to the U.S Department of Agriculture asking for dogfish to play a key role in school lunches, if you oppose reducing nutrition standards in schools then this is an issue you need to get behind.

The Atlantic spiny dogfish is not a safe species for anyone, let alone young children, to be consuming liberally. According to research, the dogfish has a high enough mercury content that would allow for an adult male to eat it maybe once a month without facing severe health consequences. According to the FDA’S standards regarding mercury, women of childbearing age and children should not consume the fish at all.

Please effectively represent the children in your district by preventing the Atlantic spiny dogfish from becoming a regular part of school lunches. The commitment to the local foods movement in your district is a commendable one, but not at the price of the health of young children.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

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