Mercury labelling of canned tuna urged by CA Medical Association and Advocates
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [US Newswire]
2nd April 2003
SACRAMENTO, Calif., U.S. Newswire via COMTEX)
The issue of mercury-contamination of canned tuna in California has reached an apex with the adoption of a resolution by the California Medical Association (CMA) last week urging the labeling of canned tuna. After reports of mercury poisoning of patients in San Francisco eating canned tuna, CMA became concerned about the clinical implications for patients who are being told to eat more fish for health reasons.
In a letter sent Monday, environmental health advocates concerned about the mercury exposure to sensitive populations (i.e. pregnant women, infants and children) and women of child-bearing years, are urging California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to label canned tuna because of its mercury content. The Attorney General is already working with several grocery store chains -- including Safeway, Kroger, Albertson's, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods -- to post signs at fish counters warning sensitive populations not to eat other species of fish contaminated with mercury.
'The time has come to label canned tuna and other fish that pose a mercury poisoning threat; our children's health is too important to stall any longer,' said Michael Bender, Director of the Mercury Policy Project, an organization working on national and global mercury policy issues.
An article in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reflects growing concerns about human exposure to mercury. According to the article, recent data from a study of chemical body burdens in the United States population done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an alarming number of women had levels of mercury in their bodies that would pose a risk to their unborn children.
Consumption of contaminated fish is a primary exposure route for mercury and canned tuna is one of the most consumed fish in the United States today. Currently, ten states warn pregnant women and children to limit consumption of canned tuna. Last July, the FDA's food safety committee recommended that pregnant women be warned to limit consumption of canned tuna, yet after several months, the Agency has failed to act.