New Tests Find Mercury In Canned Tuna - Avoid It

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Fish is an important part of diet in several counties and also a good source of protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, mercury has always been suspected to be present in some fish and doctors have issued warnings to this effect, requesting pregnant women and younger kids to limit their consumption or avoid them altogether as a safety precaution. New tests find mercury in canned tuna, reported by Consumers Reports after conducting tests on canned tuna in New York metropolitan areas.


Both Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have suggested to limit the intake of tuna to 12 ounces per week or 6 ounces per week of the white tuna.


Effect of Mercury in the body: Mercury is a neurotoxin and has been shown to cause developmental defects in adults, children and fetuses. Impaired neurological development is the primary concern which can result when the mother consumes fish laced with methyl mercury. The compound affects the brain and nervous system which in turn affects the cognitive thinking, memory, attention and language, motor and visual skills of the growing fetus. Impairment of peripheral vision, speech, co-ordination in movement and muscle weakness are few other symptoms of mercury poisoning.


Canned Tuna and Mercury levels: Shark, swordfish, tile fish and king mackerel are considered to be having higher mercury levels while salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish, tilapia, oysters, sardines, herring, mullet, scallop and Pollock are lower in mercury. So there are safer fish options out there to choose from for people who do not wish to eat fish for fear of mercury poisoning.


The FDA agency’s white-tuna samples from tests done between 2002 and 2004 averaged 0.353 ppm and light tuna, 0.118 ppm. But Consumer Reports found that as much as six percent of the FDA’s light-tuna samples had at least as much mercury as the average in white tuna; in some cases more than twice as much.


White tuna is seen to have higher mercury levels than the light kind says Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy, at Consumers Union a non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports.


The bottom-line is to avoid fish suspected of having higher mercury levels. Children below 45 pounds should consume only low mercury containing fish and fewer ounces of the same. Prevention is always better than cure and it is in the interests of pregnant mothers and children to follow the safety rules issued by the FDA and EPA regarding consumption of fish.


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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