FDA to Probe Exactly What Tuna Goes in Can

Wednesday, January 4th 2006, 9:41 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ The Food and Drug Administration will look into a newspaper report that some canned light tuna contains a species with potentially higher mercury levels, an agency spokeswoman said Saturday.

A recent Chicago Tribune series found that some cans of light tuna, which generally is made with skipjack, include yellowfin tuna and are not labeled that way.

The newspaper cited the U.S. tuna industry in reporting that yellowfin contains as much mercury as albacore tuna, which the federal government has advised certain at-risk people to eat sparingly, the newspaper reported.

The FDA will review the newspaper's information and decide whether further action is needed, FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza told The Associated Press.

In 2004, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly advised that young children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age should not eat more than 6 ounces of canned albacore tuna _ about one meal _ per week.

The advisory suggested at-risk people instead choose canned light tuna because it has lower mercury levels. No recommendation was made for canned yellowfin.

David Burney, executive director of the U.S. Tuna Foundation, said the industry would cooperate with any FDA inquiry. The foundation is the chief lobbying group for leading tuna producers StarKist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea.

Elevated mercury levels have been linked to learning disabilities and developmental delays in children and to heart, nervous system and kidney damage in adults.