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E-M:/ High levels of mercury in canned tuna
- Subject: E-M:/ High levels of mercury in canned tuna
- From: Mary Beth Doyle <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 14:47:41 -0500
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Mary Beth Doyle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Title: High levels of mercury in canned
Michigan has fish
consumption advisories for sportsfish due to mercury contamination,
but canned tuna and other commercially available fish also have high
levels of mercury. A new FDA study found especially high levels
of mercury in canned albacore tuna.
Advisory Panel Discuss Whether to Tell Women About Mercury
Contamination, New FDA Tests Show Higher Than Expected Mercury in
Jon Corsiglia: (202) 667-6982
Results of new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fish tests show that
mercury contamination of canned tuna and other fish is more serious
than agency scientists previously assumed.
Top FDA officials meet this Wednesday and Thursday with members of an
agency advisory panel to review what the FDA should tell consumers
about fish - particularly tuna, which comprises one-quarter of all
seafood sales in the nation.
The data, obtained from the FDA under the Freedom of Information Act
and analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), show that
canned albacore, known as white tuna, had mercury levels twice as high
as past FDA estimates for canned tuna, and three time the levels in
light tuna. EWG published its analysis of the FDA test results
today at www.ewg.org.
The new FDA data show other fish popular with consumers, including
grouper, orange roughy and sea bass, are even more contaminated.
But like canned albacore, these high-mercury species were not added to
a newly proposed FDA list of fish that pregnant women should avoid in
order to protect their babies. The agency's consumer
advice and the science underlying it are the subjects of this week's
Mercury is toxic to the developing brain and nervous system, and it
can have permanent effects on intelligence, speech and motor
development of children after they are born. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight percent of U.S.
women of childbearing age have levels of mercury in their blood that
present developmental risks for their babies.
A 2001 EWG investigation showed that FDA officials had quashed
findings of public opinion research on how to tell women about mercury
contamination of seafood. The suppressing of the findings came
after meetings with tuna industry lobbyists. The revelations led to
the creation of the Food Advisory Committee, which in turn recommended
to the FDA that it develop a warning to women about mercury in tuna
fish. The FDA's current warning omits tuna.
"This is where mercury pollution gets to the end of Americans'
forks. The FDA has put off leveling with consumers for three
years. Now its newest research shows the need to act is stronger
than ever before," said EWG analyst Sean Gray. "It's
time to make tuna baby-safe."
News of these high mercury levels in popular fish species comes just a
week after the Bush Administration proposed a major rollback of the
mercury pollution reduction goals adopted by the Clinton EPA, which
will result in higher mercury pollution over a more prolonged period,
increasing the risk of fish contamination.
EWG has advocated
strong, clear warnings to pregnant women on canned tuna consumption,
and reduction of mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants and
other sources to eventually make tuna baby-safe.
EWG is a nonprofit
research and advocacy organization that uses the power of information
to protect the environment and human health.
# # #
Mary Beth Doyle, MPH
Environmental Health Project
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104
734-663-2400 ext 108