Even Light Tuna May Contain Unsafe Mercury Levels

David Acheson, the chief medical officer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told reporters last week that his agency has begun an investigation into whether some brands of canned tuna fish contain unacceptably high levels of mercury, a prevalent environmental toxin known to cause human reproductive and neurological maladies.

Mercury, a naturally occurring heavy metal that also is released in large amounts by industrial smokestacks, tends to congregate in the oceans, where it is consumed inadvertently by sea life. Larger predatory fish like albacore tuna usually contain higher concentrations of mercury than smaller species, such as skipjack tuna. Albacore tuna is usually marketed as “white” tuna, while skipjack is referred to as a “light” variety on store shelves. The FDA recommends women of childbearing age and children limit consumption of white tuna.

But a three-part investigate report by the Chicago Tribune newspaper last month found that several tuna packagers are substituting yellowfin tuna, a larger fish that the FDA also considers risky, for skipjack in their “light” offerings in as many as 180 million cans each year.

In response to the Tribune‘s findings, which are disputed by the tuna industry, the FDA’s Acheson said, “We will definitely look at it through our office of seafood and determine whether there is something that requires further action.”

Source: http://planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/34277/newsDate/3-Jan-2006/story.htm