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Mercury in Tuna Still a Concern, Consumer Reports Says

Seafood Industry Calls New Report a "Retread" of 2006 Information

Mercury in Tuna: What to Do? continued...

According to Halloran, Consumer Reports recommends that pregnant women avoid canned tuna and choose lower-mercury seafood instead. Women of childbearing age and young children especially should limit how much canned tuna they eat, Halloran says. Consumer Reports recommends:

  • Children weighing less than 45 pounds should limit their weekly intake to 0 to 4 ounces of light tuna or 0 to 1.5 ounces of white tuna, depending on their weight.
  • Children weighing more than 45 pounds should not eat more than 4 to 12.5 ounces of light or 1.5 to 4 ounces of white tuna, depending on their weight.
  • Women of childbearing age should limit tuna to 12.5 ounces of light or 4 ounces of white a week.
  • Older women and men should limit tuna to 14.5 ounces of light or 5 ounces of white a week, but if they eat fish more often should stick to low-mercury varieties.

Eating fish is healthy, the report stresses, as it provides protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce heart attack and stroke risk and may help prevent certain cancers, cognitive decline, and some eye diseases. During pregnancy, omega-3s help in developing the fetal brain and visual system, the authors write.

Industry Views on Mercury in Tuna

In a statement, Gibbons also says: "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."

He mentions the risk of omega-3 deficiency.

He points to a variety of well-respected organizations that promote regular eating of seafood as healthy choices.

Tuna is the second most popular seafood in the U.S., according to a 2009 poll by the National Marine Fisheries Services. Per person, Americans ate 2.5 pounds of canned tuna last year. Shrimp was No. 1, with 4.1 pounds eaten per person.

Mercury in Tuna: What's Next?

Halloran says they're urging the FDA to do more testing and release more test data that she says they have in hand but have not released.

The FDA does have more information on seafood and mercury, says Douglas Karas, an FDA spokesman. "We do have more sampling that has not yet been formalized and published yet," he writes in an email.

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