Whole Foods Lifestyle - Mercury higher in some canned tuna, study finds

04-30-2007, 04:56 PM
Wasn't sure which forum to put this but It talks about trader joes tuna as well and that is more of a whole food kind of a place so I thought I would share the article here. I know the date is a bit old but I was looking up info this morning on Thailand tuna and found this. The Stater Bros. brand is dolphin safe from thailand so.... Any thought?

Mercury higher in some canned tuna, study finds (http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060712/news_1b12tuna.html)

Level of concentration linked to maturity of fish

By Frank Green

July 12, 2006

Canned tuna from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico can contain mercury levels 30 percent to 50 percent higher than the federal limit, according to a study released yesterday by an environmental group.

Bumble Bee Seafoods was among canners with the lowest mercury levels in a new study.
Defenders of Wildlife said that it found the highest concentrations of the toxic substance methylmercury in tuna from Tuna Real of Ecuador, Calmex of Mexico and Sardimar of Costa Rica.

Canners in Ecuador and Mexico typically buy from fishers who drop their nets near schools of dolphins to nab the mature tuna that routinely swim nearby.

Bob Irvin, the Defenders senior vice president for conservation programs, said larger tuna tend to have higher mercury levels because they are older and have been feeding longer.

The mercury in the oceans is believed to come from power-plant emissions and other industrial sources.

Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington, D.C.,-based group that campaigns for dolphin-safe fishing methods, sponsored the laboratory analysis of 164 cans of tuna originating in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand and the United States.

Of these, six varieties – all from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico – exceeded the U.S. government's mercury limit of 1 part per million, a so-called “action level” above which the Food and Drug Administration could pull products from supermarket shelves to protect public health.

Tuna Real's solid pack in oil, for instance, had the highest level of mercury at 1.5 parts per million, Irvin said.

The lowest levels of mercury were found in tuna from Thailand and the United States, including products from such major domestic canners as San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods, San Diego-based Tri-Union Seafoods – which produces Chicken of the Sea tuna – and San Francisco-based Starkist.

At the bottom of the list were four varieties of Trader Joe's brand tuna from Thailand with levels as low as .012 parts per million.

Tuna fishers in Thailand and the United States generally use dolphin-safe fishing techniques. American canners say they only buy tuna certified as having been netted under dolphin-safe conditions. This type of fishing is more likely to net smaller tuna.

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Tuna Foundation, which represents American canners, said in a statement that it stands by the quality, safety and nutritional benefits of its products and disparaged the tuna study as “statistically insignificant.”

“We urge consumers to ... review the real science, which demonstrates that canned tuna is one of the healthiest foods for Americans of any age,” the statement said.

Efforts to reach Calmex, Tuna Real and Sardimar were not successful yesterday.

A spokesman for Bojorquez Trading, a California-based distributor of Sardimar tuna, declined comment because he had not seen the report.

Ingestion of high levels of mercury has been linked to heart and kidney damage in adults and to learning disabilities and developmental disorders in children.

Foreign-packed tuna now accounts for 51 percent of the U.S. canned tuna supply by volume, up from 29 percent in 1994, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The tuna purchased for the Defenders of Wildlife study came from grocery stores in California, five other states and Washington, D.C.

The La Jolla-based online supermarket MexGrocer.com, for example, sells some Calmex tuna products, although not the high-mercury items listed in the report.

Several varieties of light tuna – which the government has said is generally safer to eat than albacore – contained some of the highest concentrations of mercury found in the study, with a Calmex light brand at 1.4 parts per million.

The Food and Drug Administration has said consumers can eat up to 12 ounces, or about two average meals, of light tuna a week, or six ounces of albacore. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should eat fish and shellfish with lower concentrations of mercury, the FDA said.

But Defenders of Wildlife said it is recommending that adults cut back on their intake of light tuna to no more than six ounces a week, with children eating half that amount.

Moreover, “people should avoid tuna from Latin America,” Irvin said.

In May, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge ruled that tuna canners did not have to post mercury warnings in grocery stores in California.

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer had filed suit seeking the labeling from Bumble Bee, Starkist and Chicken of the Sea tuna under provisions of Proposition 65, a 1986 ballot initiative requiring businesses to provide warnings before exposing consumers to known carcinogens or toxins.

But Judge Robert Dondero said that the amount of mercury in tuna is below state limits and that it occurs naturally in the canned food, thus exempting it from state warnings.

Lockyer's office has since filed objections to parts of the ruling, but it has not made a formal appeal.

“In terms of atmospherics, (the Defenders of Wildlife report) could lend even more weight” to the state's position, Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar said yesterday.

Frank Green: (619) 293-1233; frank

05-01-2007, 09:26 AM
I think seafood can be so confusing, and not just tuna. I use the Seafood Watch (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp)cards that are put out by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. I was shocked at how much mercury is in seafood and not just tuna. Fortunately, this group keeps up on everything, 'cause I sure don't have the time!

05-01-2007, 03:57 PM
Exactly. I will look over there and see what they say about wild alaskan halibut. It is at Albertsons right now!

05-01-2007, 04:02 PM
Avoid: Halibut: Atlantic
Good : Halibut: Pacific*

I am still not sure which category Wild alaskan falls under. :(

05-01-2007, 06:52 PM
Well, given that Alaska is bordering the Pacific Ocean... :)

05-01-2007, 07:15 PM
Thanx Desirata! I didn't know where it was! lol

05-02-2007, 03:12 PM
I eat the wild Alaskan halibut I get from Costco.

Costco also carries frozen wild Sockeye salmon and wild Alaskan salmon burgers which are VERY yummy!

05-02-2007, 04:24 PM
I think seafood can be so confusing, and not just tuna. I use the Seafood Watch (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp)cards that are put out by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. I was shocked at how much mercury is in seafood and not just tuna. Fortunately, this group keeps up on everything, 'cause I sure don't have the time!

Oh what a neat site, thanks for sharing :)

And it says to avoid Orange Roughy :(

I love that stuff, I have some in my freezer. Also have Tilapia and Catfish and Salmon. Just polished off the last of my Cod.

Can you tell I'm a fish fanatic? :D

05-02-2007, 08:37 PM
That's the thing, isn't it? Fish is good for you! It has omega 3s - it's a lean protein - should be a no-brainer, shouldn't it? It's scary that so many types have to be avoided or limited because of mercury, etc..