Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Update on Tuna Testing

You might recall that several weeks ago we tested all species of tuna that we sell to have a better understanding of their mercury content. The tests showed that both our imported and local tuna had mercury levels higher than deemed safe by Physicians for Social Responsibility (although within the FDA’s acceptable level). We (and most of the local fishing community) were shocked by the results from the local albacore, because other testing has been done on a fairly frequent basis and, while mercury levels in imported tuna have been known to be high, the local albacore has generally been considered safe. We ran a retest on the local albacore and it came back at the same high levels. To play it safe we decided to pull all of our tuna until we had a better grasp of the whole situation. Earlier this week we tested a different lot of local albacore tuna and it came back with mercury levels well within the safe standards. You can follow the whole saga and find links to all of the results in the blog entries below this one.

This morning I received the results from another round of testing from a different sample of albacore tuna from the original lot; a different fish, but from the same catch. I’m happy to tell you that the result is .16 mercury parts per million. This is very different from the outcome of the testing in the original lot and these mercury levels are considered normal and safe. Read the results here. A second sampling, with a second lab, returned results ranging from .20-.27 parts per million. Read the results here.

The other sample was from imported ahi tuna. The ahi had come back at unacceptable mercury levels in its first round of tests also. This time the ahi’s mercury level was at .14 parts per million, which is in the safe range.

Confused? So are we. In my original post about this issue on March 4th, I asked folks to weigh in and help us decide what position we should take in terms of offering this fish for sale; should we pull some or all of it (particularly the imported tuna) because of uncertainty, or should we just share the information that we have and let everyone decide for themselves if they want it?

Based on the feedback that we’ve received and on the wild variance in the test results, we’ve come to the decision to bring all these species back into our stores as soon as possible. We will continue to post the results of the testing that we will be doing on an ongoing basis.

As for me, I don’t eat any meat or poultry so seafood is a big part of my diet. Eileen and I have salmon and tuna for dinner regularly. Going forward we’re going to stay away from the imported tuna and only eat the local albacore. - Brian


Anonymous said...

This is why I shop at your store. Thanks for taking care of the community.


Anonymous said...

You both may want to watch that local salmon intake ?.

Mary said...

I don't understand what the meaning of testing 3 fish even is? Do you test every batch of fish that you get? It seems like testing 3 tomatoes to ensure that you'll never get the salmonella! Did Mercury levels in fish drop by 60% world wide since January? OR did you just test 60% smaller fish? This looks like a great marketing campaign to me - nothing more!