WASHINGTON -- Retailers and representatives of the seafood industry have hailed the government's 2005 dietary guidelines for specifically recommending that people consume two servings of fish a week.
This is the first time, sources told SN, that fish or seafood has been specifically named and recommended in the guidelines that are issued jointly by the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
When the final 2005 guidelines were unveiled earlier this month, the National Fisheries Institute here immediately issued a statement underscoring the fact that the guidelines mention the healthy aspects of fish and seafood.
"Today's announcement reinforces what many of us grew up hearing from our parents: Eat more fish. Now a new generation will have the same wise advice," said John Connelly, president, NFI.
Retailers echoed the sentiment.
"I think this is great that they're doing this. I don't know how many people are aware of the guidelines, but hopefully kids will be exposed to them in school and hopefully it will make them want to eat a lot of seafood. I'm in sort of an upscale market and my customers are health-conscious anyway, but it's good to have the government confirming [that's it's good for them to eat two servings of fish a week]," said Nick Balistreri, one of the owners of three-unit Sendik's Food Markets, Whitefish Bay, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee.
Balistreri added it would probably help boost already good seafood sales.
A director of meat and seafood at an East Coast chain said quite strongly that the mention of seafood in government dietary guidelines has been a long time coming.
"It's all positive. Ever since the story came out that the government might be including seafood, I've had several of my seafood managers tell me they've been able to make good use of that information in talking to their customers. Our dietitian/nutritionist also has mentioned it in her column in our circular."
At Heinen's, a 15-unit, upscale independent based in Cleveland, seafood category manager/buyer Paul Solomon said he welcomes the guidelines' comments about seafood and how healthy it is.
"We've been working with National Seafood Educators [Richmond Beach, Wash.] for a long time to convince our customers they should eat seafood twice a week," Solomon said. "Anything that confirms our efforts is good. Our big job here now is to tell people how to prepare fish and seafood. People really don't know how to cook.
"Our customers ask a lot of questions. So we're going to approach this by training our associates, teaching them how to cook fish and meat, so they can offer suggestions to our customers and be able to answer their questions."