Arriving pre-cooked in a sturdy can or an easy to open pouch, tuna seems like a safe bet. And it is. In fact, canned tuna has a shelf life of up to four years, if stored under the recommended conditions.
However, in recent years, there has been a concerted and persistent effort by some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental groups to distort unproven, theoretical risks posed to pregnant women by trace amounts of mercury in tuna. Some of these groups are using these scare tactics regarding “contaminated” fish to combat a larger issue: the pollution from coal burning utility plants which releases mercury into the atmosphere.
“People start to care much more, and understand the threat to the ocean, when you tell them that their tuna fish is contaminated. It's a dramatic, eye-opening moment for people.”
-Andrew Sharpless, Oceana
August 27, 2007
This has touched off a national debate where important facts about eating tuna and fish during pregnancy have become obscured and has created a new series of health problems – women and others who avoid eating fish and are afraid to enjoy its many proven health benefits.
What is lost in the media coverage is that leading, independent scientists agree that pregnant women, their unborn children and American families are losing out on the proven health benefits of eating tuna and other fish based on fear and unproven allegations of risk from normal tuna and fish consumption. In fact, the science is very clear that seafood consumption, including tuna, is not only good for expecting mothers (and all consumers) but recommended for proper fetal development. To make matters worse, even prior to this debate most Americans, including pregnant women, did not even come close to eating the 2-3 servings per week of fish recommended for optimum health.
The National Fisheries Institute and its Tuna Council takes food safety and public health seriously and works tirelessly with the U.S. government and food organizations to ensure the safety of all its products and to educate the public about the nutritional benefits of tuna.