by Marion Nestle
Aug 21 2014

Mercury in fish–again. Watch out for tuna.

In June I wrote about the FDA’s advice to pregnant women to avoid eating fish high in methylmercury.  The advisory said to avoid the four fish highest in methylmercury:  shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

I was surprised that the advisory didn’t warn about the high mercury levels in albacore tuna, and I was skeptical about the FDA’s  insistence that pregnant women must eat fish.

Now Consumer Reports advises pregnant women not to eat tuna at all.

Consumer Reports:

So what’s going on here?

In my book, What to Eat, I included a chapter on this very topic: “The Methylmercury Dilemma.”  Here’s a quote:

Albacore tuna clearly belonged on the list of fish to avoid, but advice to restrict its consumption would surely affect the livelihoods of people who fish for, can, and sell tuna.   Because hardly anyone knows the difference between one kind of tuna and another, fish companies worried that consumers would interpret advice to avoid albacore tuna as advice to avoid all tuna.  Industry lobbyists urged the FDA to keep albacore tuna off the methylmercury advisory.   Somehow, albacore tuna got left off.

That was in 2006.   Consumer Reports tells us that pretty much all tuna is too high in methylmercury to be consumed by pregnant women.  So this comment still seems relevant, no?

Evidence: Here’s the response from the National Fisheries Institute:  “Consumer Reports has long history of intentionally mischaracterizing tuna.”

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  • Proof again that commerce comes before health in our capitalistic society. It seems Europe is the only safe place to live if you want a longer healthier life where the government and healthcare are actually separate from and not owned by big corporations.

  • I buy tuna from American Tuna. They line catch smaller, younger albacore tuna, with minimal mercury contamination.

    These blankets statements only harm small, responsible companies that are providing a healthy, sustainable fish that isn’t contaminated.

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  • This is actually dangerous and can lead to unhealthy life of the mother. It can also harm the birth process if the statement above is true. Government should take action against if they want their people to lead a long and healthier life.

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