Based on the results of an investigative series by the Chicago Tribune newspaper, the Consumers Union has issued a recommendation that pregnant women avoid eating tuna of any kind due to the high risk of unhealthy levels of mercury contained therein. The Tribune had reported that about 15 percent of canned light tuna—the variety touted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “low-mercury” and thus safe for children and pregnant women to eat in moderation—is culled from species with high concentrations of mercury, a known neurotoxin that is spewed from smokestacks and ends up in the oceans where it accumulates in sea creatures high up on the marine food chain.
Consumers Union has published a two-page article in the latest issue of its influential Consumer Reports magazine warning that enough experts are concerned about the issue to warrant caution. “This is important information that women need to hear,” says Consumers Union food policy director Jean Halloran, who also serves on an FDA advisory panel on mercury in seafood. “We think that high exposures, even for a day or two, could be too much of a risk,” she adds.
For their part, the FDA reports that its own reviews of canned light tuna have found significantly less mercury than the Tribune analysis. The agency does not plan on issuing its own warning of any kind, insisting that the average level of mercury in canned light tuna remains low.
To read more about the mercury issue, see emagazine.com/view/?727