Consumer Reports Warns of Mercury in Canned Tuna

Based on the unpredictable spikes revealed in the tests, Consumer Reports said pregnant women and young children should avoid canned tuna

Consumer Reports Warns of Mercury in Canned Tuna

FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Canned tuna is known to contain low levels of mercury, but a new Consumer Reports investigation has revealed spikes of the neurotoxin in some cans.

The organization tested five popular tuna brands, CBS News reported. While the mercury levels were all within U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards, Consumer Reports urged pregnant women to "avoid canned tuna altogether." FDA guidelines say pregnant women can eat canned tuna in limited quantities. "While canned tuna, especially light varieties, has relatively low average levels of mercury, individual cans can sometimes have much higher levels," Consumer Reports said.

Mercury can affect neurodevelopment, said CBS News medical contributor David Agus, M.D. The effects may include impaired brain function and developmental delays in children. If a fetus is exposed to high levels of mercury, it may lead to thinking and memory issues later on, he said. "Young children and pregnant women especially need to keep mercury away from those neurons that are developing," Agus told CBS News.

Consumer Reports tested 10 tuna products from five brands: Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, Safe Catch, StarKist, and Wild Planet. The tests included about 30 samples of both albacore and light tuna from each brand, all packed in water, CBS News reported. Light tuna tended to have less mercury than albacore, the tests showed.

"But you can't tell by just looking how much mercury a specific can has," said Consumer Reports senior scientist Michael Hansen. Consumer Reports found six individual spikes in mercury content among the 30 samples "that would change the FDA's recommendation about how often someone should eat that particular tuna," CBS News reported.

Four of the five tuna companies told CBS News their products are safe and within FDA standards. Bumble Bee did not immediately respond, but told Consumer Reports that "health benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh any potential risk, including concerns about mercury."

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Physician’s Briefing Staff

Physician’s Briefing Staff

Published on February 10, 2023

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