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Fish canners challenge mercury-labeling suit State wants makers to warn of dangers on tuna packages
Food industry and health groups nationwide are closely watching a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court that will reach a milestone Friday when a judge hears state attorneys claim that big canners are breaking the law by failing to tell consumers about mercury in tuna fish.
Not so, say lawyers for defendants StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee. Their popular product makes a delicious and healthful sandwich, and doesn't fall under the purview of Proposition 65, the initiative passed by voters 20 years ago to rid toxic substances in consumer products, food and water, they say.
The state sued in 2004 under Prop. 65 to force the tuna canners to warn of the risks of mercury, a potent neurotoxin. The companies already face penalties of $2,500 a day per violation dating back to June 2000, and the amount is growing every day as they refuse to warn, state attorneys say.
Group warns of high levels of mercury in sushi
LOS ANGELES – Sushi is more popular than ever, but eating it "has become the new Russian roulette" in terms of safety, a group campaigning against mercury in fish said Monday.
Eli Saddler of www.gotmercury.org, a campaign of California-based Sea Turtle Restoration Project, went to six top sushi restaurants in Los Angeles to test mercury levels in the fish they serve.
"The level of mercury in tuna these restaurants serve is so high they should be keeping this food off their lists," Saddler said.
One in five U.S. women has high mercury levels
In February, the Environmental Quality Institute released interim results [152KB PDF]from a nationwide mercury hair-sampling project that should raise concerns with potential mothers. Written by a group led by the institute’s co-director, Steven Patch of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, the report shows that slightly more than 20% of women of childbearing age had higher concentrations than the U.S. EPA’s recommended limit of 1 microgram of mercury per gram of hair (µg/g). Although more men than women were found to have high mercury levels, experts worry more about women of childbearing age because studies have found that exposure to mercury during pregnancy causes neurological abnormalities in children.
So far, Patch and his colleagues have tested hair samples from more than 6500 volunteers. The researchers say that their data “indicate a consistent and strong positive relationship between mercury in hair and total fish consumption.”
Man, is nothing safe?
Cloned pigs are porky and best, say scientists
Researchers say they have created cloned piglets that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the oil that is prized as being beneficial to the heart.
Omega-3 is mostly found in fish, but this supply is threatened by overtrawling and clouded by worries about mercury pollution, which accumulates in fish livers.
A team led by Yifan Dai of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine transferred into foetal pig cells a gene called fat-1 that had been identified in a well-studied lab animal, a tiny worm known as Caenorhabditis elegans.
Fat-1 converts the abundant but less desirable omega-6 fatty acids into the coveted omega-3.
Given that the animals are experimental -- not to say extraordinarily expensive -- no one knows what their meat tastes like, whether it is safe to eat and whether the piglets will retain high levels of omega-3 when they reach adulthood.
New warning for canned tuna: Mercury risk for pregnant women too high, Consumer Reports says
The chance that canned tuna will contain high levels of mercury is great enough that pregnant women should never eat it, according to new recommendations from a leading consumer group...
The newspaper reported late last year that about 15 percent of canned light tuna--the kind of tuna touted by the FDA as a low-mercury option--is made with a species that often contains high amounts of the toxic metal.
FDA officials later revealed that 6 percent of canned light tuna sampled between 2001 and 2005 had mercury levels that exceeded the average in canned albacore tuna, which the federal government tells pregnant women and young children to limit eating because it tends to have high levels of mercury.
In a two-page article in the July issue of Consumer Reports, the consumer group also urged pregnant women to shun four other kinds of seafood because of mercury concerns--Chilean sea bass, halibut, American lobster and Spanish mackerel.