AS far as Jamie Miller knew from reports by government agencies about the health of Lake Macquarie, his regular feed of mud crabs pulled from the lake were safe to eat.
Now he's thinking again, and feeling none-too-pleased with those government agencies after a new report raises serious questions about how much cadmium he might have accumulated in his body from more than 20 years of regular mud crab consumption.
The Environment Protection Authority on Monday defended a statement in January saying dietary advice for cadmium "remains consistent" with previous advice and adults could safely consume six servings of crab per month, while children could consume three servings per month.
What the advice didn't say is that the "crab meat" consumption recommendation was based on blue swimmer crabs, and not the mud crabs Mr Miller has always caught and eaten. Blue swimmer crabs were chosen after the 2018 tests found mud crab levels were low, and represented only 1 per cent of anglers' total catch, while blue swimmers represented about 12 per cent.
What the January also didn't say was that an Office of Environment and Heritage risk assessment report recommended adults could safely eat one blue swimmer crab per week, but because of cadmium levels it recommended no mud crabs should be eaten on a weekly basis.
That's fine advice if you're a regular blue swimmer crab eater, but not so fine if you've always restricted yourself to mud crabs, as Mr Miller has.
The advice is also deficient because it makes no concession to what can happen when too much cadmium accumulates in the body from eating foods like mud crabs which contain high levels of cadmium because of water pollution. In the case of Lake Macquarie it's years of industrial pollution from the old Pasminco smelter, and years of pollution down south from two ageing coal-fired power stations.
If people's kidneys are already compromised, they should not eat any seafood with heavy cadmium levels because of its serious negative impacts on kidneys and livers.
Jamie Miller is typical of Lake Macquarie people who seek out crabs as a "luxury" food item that costs very little if you catch it yourself. Mr Miller and others like him are entitled to know what they've been eating.