Pregnant Women Told, ‘No Tuna’

Discussion
Jun 06, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


A new report from Consumer Reports magazine says pregnant women, those planning on conceiving or those who are presently nursing infants or toddlers should not eat canned tuna – period.


The concern about consumption of tuna and other types of fish is the amount of mercury found in the fish. High levels of the metal have been found to harm the nervous systems of children in the women, babies and young children.


The government said it was comfortable with existing guidelines, which maintain it is safe for consumers in at-risk groups to consume up to 12 ounces a week.


The guidelines set by the federal government are restricted to albacore tuna (AKA white tuna), but Consumer Reports maintains that canned light tuna was found to contain up to “twice as much — as the average albacore.”


The U.S. Tuna Foundation said it supports the federal guidelines and suggested Consumer Reports was making much ado about very little. According to the group, the health benefits of consuming seafood outweigh any risk from “trace amounts of mercury.” 


Moderator’s Comment: Will Consumer Reports‘ recommendation that at-risk groups avoid all consumption of canned tuna have an effect on sales? Which
source do you think consumers are most likely to trust on the canned tuna consumption question?

George Anderson – Moderator

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12 Comments on "Pregnant Women Told, ‘No Tuna’"


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Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
14 years 8 months ago

I think the tuna and related fish industries would do themselves a lot of good to conduct a tracking study showing the rates of birth defects, mental illness and other conditions related to mothers who eat tuna (fish) during pregnancy vs. those that don’t. When the results prove no difference, the panicked public will come back. By that time, however, we’ll surely have more foods on the hit list.

Nancy Townson
Guest
Nancy Townson
14 years 8 months ago

This could be the tip of the iceberg.

The CDC will soon be implementing recommendations to Health Care Providers to treat women of childbearing age as pre-conceptual. All women may soon be advised to not eat Tuna.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

This is the tip of the iceberg. Of course tuna sales will go down — at least in the short term. But other deep ocean fish including swordfish are equally suspect when it comes to mercury pollution. Of course, fish issues don’t stop with salt water varieties. What happens when consumer reports begins monitoring water quality and its impact on other species? As to who consumes trust, my vote would go to Consumer Reports over the government every time.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

The U.S. Tuna Foundation, the tobacco manufacturers association, the auto manufacturers group, and all the other reality-denying industry groups should be invited to join each other in a special state, to be set up on some isolated polluted radioactive atoll, called New Kidding. Perhaps the nuclear industry association could help find the best location. New Kidding legislators would be required to work for industry groups, and no business regulation, except those which enhance profits, would be allowed under the state constitution. The state fish could be the tuna.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Score:

CR 3, Feds 1 (Industry 0: couldn’t at least one person give them a nod?)

Unlike, say, smoking, there ARE benefits to eating tuna; whether these benefits outweigh the risks, or whether or not they can be obtained by eating something else, are, of course, the implicit questions here. Unfortunately, any hope of consensus will fade as more and more science (and its evil twin pseudo-science) becomes available. There is a big difference between not knowing something is dangerous, and proving something is “safe;” if this latter – and usually unattainable – standard is our goal, then expect caveats such as this to become a RW staple.

Thaddeus Tazioli
Guest
Thaddeus Tazioli
14 years 8 months ago
Reports concerning mercury in fish have been circulating for several years now. Although I haven’t read the Consumer Reports article, I doubt it is offering any new information. I am surprised that it appears they are suggesting all canned light tuna has potentially harmful levels of mercury. In fact, most canned light tuna is made with skipjack tuna which has low (safe) levels of mercury. Some manufacturers will use tuna with higher mercury levels (i.e. bluefin, yellowfin, bonito) if they have excess inventory. That creates a confusing situation for consumers and should be corrected by manufacturers. I’m not sure to what extent tuna sales have been impacted by these reports. My impression is that it is marginal. On a personal note, I still see countless moms feeding infants and toddlers hot dogs cut the shape of quarters (the coin) instead of strips even though the former presents a dangerous choking hazard. I think in general, Americans spend far more time thinking about clothes, decorating, cars, vacations, gossip etc., than they do their health and well… Read more »
Kai Clarke
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

As communication improves and we become more concerned about our health, warnings such as these will have a greater and greater impact on the American public. Although this is a focused, small target market, the warnings will still have some impact, albeit a small one. Currently the average American’s sensitivity to warnings about what they eat is almost nonexistent. Our increased rates of obesity and diabetes point to the impact of this, and our ability to ignore the obvious. However, this appears to be changing as we become more sensitized to our health during key points of our lives. Pregnancy for women is certainly one of these. The key factor here is that any heavy metal, including mercury, has a cumulative effective on the body over a lifetime!

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
14 years 8 months ago

There used to be a commercial that said, “When EF Hutton speaks, people listen.” Consumer Reports has, in my opinion, a very similar clout. Depending upon how many news media outlets (written, Internet and TV) pick up on the story will determine the impact on sales.

Just because the government says it is OK, doesn’t mean that the public will take the government’s word over Consumer Reports. My take is that there will be an impact.

Karin Miller
Guest
Karin Miller
14 years 8 months ago

“Sorry Charlie,” but of course this recommendation will lower tuna sales. I think most people trust Consumer Reports over the FDA (think food pyramid), though I think pregnant women will always err on the side of the most conservative recommendation, regardless of the source.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

How many pregnant women or new mothers do you know who would take any risk at all with either their own or their children’s lives? Government, manufacturers and retailers have protested their innocence far too often to be considered objective. If there is even the slightest risk involved to those groups, they are going to take heed.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 8 months ago

The impact of Consumer Reports on today’s consumers is significant. Credibility is something that is earned, and they have earned it. I bet that pregnant and nursing women and those thinking of becoming moms will take this new information to heart and choose alternative forms of fish. The data that canned light tuna contained at least as much of the metal-and in some cases twice as much as albacore tuna- is surprising and cause for concern.

Today’s consumers want credible information presented on health and safety issues so they can decide for themselves. Pregnancy is a time in one’s life when women are so concerned about the health of the fetus that avoiding any potential risk is worth it.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 8 months ago

I work with skittish preconception moms every day. They are concerned with tiny issues like the amount of potassium in tomatoes. To them, reports of mercury in tuna will be like a starburst in the heavens.

Fertility and PGS (preconception gender selection) are enormous issues worldwide, with millions of nervous couples seeking to create the ideal family. We currently advise mothers to avoid fish for several reasons during their preconception period, and this report clearly supports our advice.

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