Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Not All About You, Charlie

One good link leads to another. Or one good lead links to another. After reading my May 27th blog on the best and the worst seafood for you and the environment, reader Karen Nemsick wrote to say the Monterey Bay Aquarium website also has good information. But that's not the half of it. The Aquarium also had some seriously guerilla-style ideas to get friends and your local restaurants thinking about healthier seafood buying practices. But I'll come back to that (and give you a link) in a few minutes. Some serious stuff first.

While snoogling around the Aquarium site, I found a link to some deeper information about mercury levels. I know some of you come here for the short version, and it's here, presented simply and visually on a map linked below. And I don't want to scare you, but after reading a bit, I realized this is serious enough to offer you enough information to keep you safe. It turns out it's not all about canned tuna. First, check this visual link, courtesy of U.S.A. Today, to a map showing mercury levels by area of the country, and listing the local fish to avoid - those most mercury-impregnated: .

If you have more time, here are three articles focusing right in on the science. Any of them is excellent alone. If you're a news hound like me, you won't find them overly repetitive. They all have a different focus.

A New York Times article here:

An article from Deep Sea News here:

U.S.A Today weighs in here:

Now, as promised, here's the link for a little guerillafish warfare on the seafood front. Download free these printable cards from The Monterey Bay Aquarium (use card stock) to hand out at restaurants that either compliment them on their purchase of safe seafood, or (very gently) chastises them and ask that they be more aware. They are tastefully done, non-offensive. The cards have a fun fish photo on one side and the message on the other. There are many other tools for seafood lovers on the Aquarium's website, as well as some pretty interesting info on the Aquarium itself (duh!). Link in at or go straight to the hand-outs: .

By the way, I don't want to do a disservice to Starkist Tuna. Starkist tuna is wild caught, and the company has had a dolphin-safe catch policy since 1990 - possibly the first company to do so. About their mercury levels, I prefer to quote their official site FAQ. Note, however, that this information applies only to their "light meat tuna," and not their white tuna:

"Q. Is there Mercury in Canned Tuna?

A. Canned tuna is safe and canned light meat tuna is listed on the EPA/FDA advisory as one of the fish that has very low levels of methylmercury. The trace levels of methylmercury found in canned tuna are far below the 1.0 parts per million (ppm) standard the FDA has set as safe. FDA testing has shown that canned light meat tuna has an average of 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and that Albacore (white meat) tuna has an average of 0.35 ppm. StarKist has appropriate testing procedures in place to ensure that both our light meat canned and white meat canned tuna are well below the FDA limit of 1 ppm."

You can read the rest of their FAQ at , or learn more at the FDA's website at or the FDA Center for Food Safety Information Line, 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

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