Consumers Union raises concerns about mercury in tuna
December 7th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

Consumers Union raises concerns about mercury in tuna

Younger women and children should limit the amount of tuna they eat and pregnant women should not eat tuna at all, because of mercury levels found in the canned and packaged fish, says  new report in the January 2011 issue of Consumer Reports.

Albacore or white tuna usually contains far more mercury than light tuna, according to Consumer Reports , and canned tuna is the most common source of mercury in our diet.

In order to test current levels, investigators for the periodical tested 42 samples from cans and pouches of tuna bought mostly in the New York City area. They found all the samples contained measurable levels of mercury, ranging from 0.018 to 0.774 parts per million. Samples of white tuna had 0.217 to 0.774 ppm of mercury and averaged 0.427 ppm. According to Consumer Reports, if a woman of childbearing age ate about half a can of any of the tested samples, she would exceed the daily mercury intake the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.

The Food and Drug Administration and the EPA guidelines indicate women of childbearing age and young children may eat up to 12 ounces a week of light tuna or other "low in mercury" seafood, including, within that limit, up to 6 ounces per week of white tuna. But Consumer Reports believes that may be too much. Because mercury can cause defects to the nervous system during fetal development, Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, advises pregnant women, as a precaution, to avoid eating tuna. It also advises that children who weigh more than 45 pounds limit their intake to 12.5 ounces of light tuna or 4 ounces of white tuna per week, and children who weigh less than 45 pounds consume no more than 4 ounces of light tuna or 1.5 ounces of white tuna.

Some critics, including fish producers, say Consumer Reports is overblowing the research.

"Consumer Reports' suggestion that pregnant women limit the amount of fish they eat, outside of the FDA's four fish to avoid, is reckless and has the potential to harm public health," says the National Fisheries Institute in a statement "Peer-reviewed science shows that pregnant women who limit or avoid seafood may actually be introducing risks from omega-3 deficiency.  Advising pregnant women to cut canned tuna out of their diet and for others to limit their consumption based merely on a magazine's editorial opinion is irresponsible."

But Consumer Reports is asking for change. Due to the results of the investigation, the publication's editors are asking the FDA strengthen its current guidance and advise pregnant women to avoid tuna altogether. The group also believes the FDA should continue to test for mercury in seafood across the country, and provide U.S. consumers updated information on mercury levels in fish, as well as diet alternatives

"Fortunately, it's easy to choose lower-mercury fish that are also rich in healthful omega-3 fatty acids," says Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of Technical Policy, at Consumers Union. "That's especially important for women who are pregnant or might become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children, because fetuses and youngsters are still developing their nervous systems and are therefore at particular risk from methylmercury's neurotoxic effects."

Lower mercury seafood includes shrimp, crab and cod.

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Jesus

    I eat a lot of tuna and have recently noticed silver coloration in my eyeballs. When it's warm out the coloration is more intense and when it's cold, it seems to disappear.I wonder if it has anything to do with mercury?

    December 7, 2010 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jay

      mmmm, its a possibility

      December 7, 2010 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Either that or it's because you're Jesus

      December 8, 2010 at 01:35 | Report abuse |
    • maddawg

      HUGE LMAOs....

      anybody that goes by the name of jesus has BIGGER problems than the tuna they eat.

      December 8, 2010 at 07:18 | Report abuse |
    • Yoda

      EFFECTS ON THE EYE: Long-term occupational exposure to mercury has caused a grayish-brown or yellow discoloration in the eyes of some people. This haze is not thought to affect vision. A gray band through the cornea (band keratopathy) has also been reported in a few people. In one study, poor colour vision was observed in 33 employees with moderately high to high urine mercury levels. Source: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/chem_profiles/mercury/health_mercury.html

      December 8, 2010 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    What industries are dumping mercury into our waters??.. No one speaks of limiting the pollution. Soon there will be nothing safe to eat or drink or breath!1 What a greedy species we humans are!

    December 7, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cole

      Few/none. Most all of it comes from airborne particles, most of it from burning coal.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
    • Autumn

      Check out ORSANCO and the levels of mercury in the Ohio River. Industries were recently allowed to increase the levels of toxic waste and mercury dumped into the Ohio.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      Decades from now, they'll discover that mercury is great for your health. People will be taking 500 mg. of mercury daily to extend life.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:32 | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      ^And those people will be only marginally stupider than they are today.

      December 7, 2010 at 21:37 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Stop using electricity if you really care that bad... this won't happen which makes us all hypocrites. We fully support the companies that produce these chemicals buy constantly purchasing their products and using their services but we mouth off about how we don't like it... as if that will change anything. You (and me) reach to the product that is $1 cheaper, even through the more expensive product was made 100 miles away and the cheaper thing is shipped all the way from freakin China... atrocities!

      December 8, 2010 at 01:37 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      By the way this post and the one above are not the same Bob as the original post... lol!

      December 8, 2010 at 01:38 | Report abuse |
    • Lyle

      There was a show about a WWII submarine that had 60 tons of mercury in it when it went down. It was used to create explosives. I suspect this has something to do with it. The oceans are big, but not infinite.

      December 8, 2010 at 01:53 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      I read an article that said most mercury pollution comes from incinerating medical waste. The mercury can attach to different types of chemicals that are light enough to float and drift in the atmosphere before they come down, sometimes far from their oriiginal source. I wonder how much mercury occurs "naturally" in the sea – not from pollution.

      December 8, 2010 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
  3. razzlea

    It seems that everyday something comes out about food that we eat being polluted like the dirty dozens and now high amounts of mercury in Tuna . I beleive that the rise in cancers and other diseases have to be related to this issue. Check out my health and fitness blog http://razzlea.blogspot.com/

    December 7, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cole

      Mercury and fish has been in the news for a while now... It's really old news. No offense, but if you didn't know something basic like that you've no business writing a health/fitness blog. Don't know if you are or not, but only those with proper training and certification should write blogs on impact topics.

      December 7, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  4. Joe Maxman

    Bob, its been this way since Mesopotamia, everything is happennning at a more rapid pace today. Jesus, u better get to a doctor before u become a walking thermometer. The enviroment is not even on the political agenda anymore, we should have our politicians eat more tuna.

    December 7, 2010 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Justin

    There is always something wrong with our food or something that we normally do so whats the point anymore

    December 7, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. charles s

    This is really sad information. Tuna otherwise is very nutritious. The affects of mercury is insidious and should be avoided. Coal burning power plants are the major source of mercury in the environments. Many fresh water fish also have high levels of mercury. Maybe some people are more sensitive to mercury and this is causing other neurological disease like autism in children.

    December 7, 2010 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. The_Mick

    This is not news. For years I've been telling the flat-earthers who oppose the few vaccinations that contain mercury anymore that there's more mercury in 1 1/2 6oz. cans of tuna than a flu shot and in a form that's less easily excreted from the body.

    December 7, 2010 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jesus

      Yes, that's true...but you don't mainline the can of tuna.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
  8. flash

    Coal plants are one source but for fresh water fish the biggest source is the toxic waste dumped into the rivers. Years of greed and no concern for the environment got us to where we are now.

    December 7, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Bidgette

    Just great. I am already 5 months into my pregnancy and had a can of light tuna about once every other week in the beginning since I was advised not to eat lunchmeats.

    December 7, 2010 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cole

      That's fine. In fact, that sounds like it's inline with the FDA's guidelines and as the report said, light tuna isn't as big of a concern as white.

      December 7, 2010 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick

      Do some research and limit yourself to fish that are very low in mercury. I know swordfish is pretty bad, so avoid those too.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  10. KawiMan

    Fortunate for Earth, unfortunate for humans – Our species won't change its ways until it's too late.
    Humans were given the responsibility of caretakers of the Earth and have failed miserably for many reasons. Primarily, greed and unbounded overpopulation of the human species.

    December 7, 2010 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    I've gathered a lot of important data related to tuna, but i have recall it for posting, some is conspiracy crime symbolicly related to political matters. Regarding certain consumer products in general like the low cost lemon juice with the added ingredient of metobiosulphate it proves out that many are dying from intentional poison of lead related to battery fluid poisoning, the assault and battery situation was used litarally to give persons sick sick stomach and bowel problems. I lost a close in-law to the effects of that poisoning, who lived in detroit area. many products do have illegal ingredients added to them that are defined in some ways as if they are antiseptics but not those particular ingredients. What is done is that misleading deceptions about the true antiseptics that could be added into a product to control certain illnesses of bacteria etc. are used name wise to confuse the real additive chemistry. They invent ,what i am trying to say, a new additive name but on searching you will find that they are carcinogenic chemicals and not the real antiseptic type ones that would be or should be used in medicines for example. Cross referencing particle names of the ingredient leads to the diseases it's related to but the true additive is not a benefit but a poison disguised as product health ingredient. The medical treatment that follows daily ingestion or even one time ingestion often ends up as drastic surgery or chemotherapy and the real cause is never disclosed to the patient or even investigated to remove it from their diet so they don't have further carcinogenic damages. Too many products have these disguised poisons and many are also poisoned additionally by home invaders putting poisons in food or more lethal poisoning done intentionally at some point in manufacturing channels or as diverted shipments that are switched for the clean shipments. Some trucking depots which locate in suspect areas often get switcheroo product shipments to deliver to certain stores. Basically some science freaks exploit and criminally use their science knowledge to murder or cripple the populace. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii interpole galactica y-research management i-pic. sodium metobisulphate has a particle name that treats streptoccul type infections but the real ingredient is used in battery production and contains lead.

    December 7, 2010 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cole

      Right... Killing your consumer is a great business model! But, really, when you're trying to make up a fantasy conspiracy, be more practical and limit it to a few at the top, instead of a widespread one. When you include everyone, it becomes impractical.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
  12. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    Many persons including me are afflicted with multi-combination disease and poison problems and damages. It is also a satanic controle disease force that if localized in one or two areas puts people in bed sick or cripples them or and eventually kills them. However certain types of self therapy and basic medicine treatment regimines can redistribute the disease force so that it is in different areas of the body, thus you would have a headache, bit of a backache, some nervous stomach, heart pressure and such – sick everywhere and not particular horribly sick anywhere and thus you can cope and that condition of the distributed illness is called general malaise. However many doctors or maybe most don't know how that condition comes about or what it really is. And acupuncture treatment which preach healing the illnesses by affecting the electric magnetic meridians of the body doesn't really work based on that principle itself. It may work sometimes because in needling different or many many areas of the body the cause the body to send antibodies and such healing chemistry releases to those needle areas thus increasing the combating of disease and deficiency damages somewhat. They are basically just raising the overall immune fighting system. It is better to rub an area or shake your limbs or arms or do strange exercises plus treat nutritionally and with those basic medicines i described previously to put your system in a general malaise status. From that toned down forces result it may later in time be possible to become healthy and rejuvenated again.
    theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic interpole galactica y-research management. What i've just also described is self healing practices.

    December 7, 2010 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jesus

      WOW! You sound like a person with a massive psychiatric issue. Maybe you just need a hug, but my bet is that you could use electro-shock therapy and a court order requiring you to stay more than 500 feet from children and schools.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
  13. Jesse

    You think that is bad. Get a flu shot preserved with thimersol. You are getting about 50 ppm of mercury.

    December 7, 2010 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lillian

      Hear hear!

      December 8, 2010 at 01:29 | Report abuse |
  14. Phillip K Fish

    people should eat sardines instead. Get the skinless boneless in water kind.

    December 7, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Phillip K Fish

    sardines are the lowest in mercury and highest in omega 3

    December 7, 2010 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    The frank who was extortion gunning my father and others for money may be a husband directly of pupatello or in-law relative because pupatello was constantly trafficking property of mine as well. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic interpole galactica. or he may be a detroit frank person who is also related to pupatello.

    December 7, 2010 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    multiply those cases by all the other representatives and their satan members and that means a lot of dirty blood soaked country businesses in charge of government, etc. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii

    December 7, 2010 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Frank

    Soon we'll be able to mine our lakes and oceans. "Beware of the Love of Money!" Actually it's too late; we are all s'cewed. Humans contaminated the water. Humans contaminated the air. Humans contaminated the food supply and if the past is the best indication of the future... We are all s'cewed. The best thing that could happen for this planet, its life forms, plants and its future is for the human specy to disappear, today. What would then happen? Just imagine a world without gas emissions, chemicals, wars, dezoning of the natural habitats, creek water becoming drinkable, etc. We're the only specy that doesn't live by a balanced ecosystem, yet we have a so called "brain": we're the stupidest "evolution" gone wild. There, I just blew a gasket 🙂

    December 7, 2010 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    that's why i keep cursing them and telling them to get out of office. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i know a lot more about some of the other members elected as well. Politics doesn't mean war to steal. It means reprentation of the area elected in
    to protect rights.

    December 7, 2010 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. swohio

    This may sound like a stupid question, but what about men...? The article says nothing about men eating tuna. Are men immune to the effects of mercury in the diet?

    December 7, 2010 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. sherycarin

    Free Samples are offered for a limited time so when they are posted please take advantage of the offer before it is gone. Look online for "123 Get Samples" where I was able to get healthy product samples.

    December 8, 2010 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. MashaSobaka

    The whole “advising people not to eat mercury-laced fish poses a hazard to public health” thing really threw me. Um, no. Advising people not to eat mercury-laced fish is actually beneficial to public health – I’m not sure why that has to be explained to you. As for “you’re telling pregnant woman to withhold omega-3s” argument, news flash: Tuna isn’t the only fish with omega-3s, and fish isn’t the only food product with omega-3s. Look, I know the fisheries are desperate to keep afloat (to the point that they’ve destroyed several ecosystems and are in the process of destroying more), but publicly making fools of themselves is not the best strategy.

    December 8, 2010 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. bruce

    This is mostly a scare campaign-mercury in fish is cancelled out by selenium which is also high in the fish-check it out. Google mercury-selenium connection-you can't eat enough fish to really do harm.

    December 8, 2010 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Howard

      High-5 for being educated! Too bad the rest of these people will never know....

      December 8, 2010 at 02:24 | Report abuse |
  24. Claus-Peter Kessler MD

    This environmental problem is severe and too few people know, recognize and do something against it, and it will become worse, especially when we have to deal with the additional amount of mercury from the disposal of the energysaving lightbulbs. But this problem with mercury sensitifity and toxification only seems to play a role for those people, who have a genetic blood-subtype called Apolipoprotein E4. They can not excret mercury like others do. This means, whatever they eat, drink or put on their skin(cosmetics) that contains molecules of mercury, their body has to deal with it and stores it. They have to be very carefull with the exposure to mercury.
    This means not all the pregnant women have to be concerned and we can not generalize the fish species. It is correct, that the higher the fish is on the foodchain the more mercury it will store, but it alwas depends in which wster the prey and the fish lived in (drainage from dental offices, goldmining, papermills, chlor-alkali factories are sources).
    There are plenty reports about the Everglades, Amazone river and the Great Lakes for example.

    December 8, 2010 at 03:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. PJ

    I wish the Feds would enforce the law re: stores disclosing where fish comes from. Not even the highest end store here in Massachusetts tells us when fish comes from China or Vietnam both notorious for contaminated waters.

    December 8, 2010 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Rob

    It's also important to remember the role of selenium in counteracting methylmercury toxicity. Peer-reviewed research has shown that a simple measurement of mercury exposure, like the one discussed in this CNN article, is not a useful indicator of mercury toxicity risk. It is important to also evaluate the amount of selenium consumed as well as the ratio of selenium to mercury in the diet. While consuming mercury from fish at all is not a great idea, hyping up the negative effects of eating tuna with articles like this is simply misleading. Take into account all of the dietary and physiological factors affecting mercury sensitivity and toxicity and you will get a clearer picture of the risks involved in fish consumption.

    Rational, effective nutrition for fat loss and long-term health: http://www.NutritionPerfected.com/np-blog.html

    December 8, 2010 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    why aren't you posting what i just wrote so you can put it on air as your words with your office instead crook racket dealer.

    December 8, 2010 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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