Consumer Reports is taking issue with recent FDA guidelines encouraging up to 12 ounces of fish consumption per week in women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant.  The focus of concern, says Gail Sullivan, is mercury content in tuna:

 

“We’re particularly concerned about canned tuna, which is second only to shrimp as the most commonly eaten seafood in the United States,” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “We encourage pregnant women to avoid all tuna.”

When the magazine analyzed the FDA’s data, they found 20 percent of the light canned tuna samples tested since 2005 have almost twice as much mercury as what the FDA said is the average amount. Just as some samples have higher mercury than the average, some may have lower levels of mercury. But consumers can’t know whether the cans of tuna they’re buying might have an above average amount.

 

The FDA, Sullivan says, is standing pat:

When the magazine analyzed the FDA’s data, they found 20 percent of the light canned tuna samples tested since 2005 have almost twice as much mercury as what the FDA said is the average amount. Just as some samples have higher mercury than the average, some may have lower levels of mercury. But consumers can’t know whether the cans of tuna they’re buying might have an above average amount.

 

CR adds some context:

 

Mercury levels in the northern Pacific Ocean have risen about 30 percent over the past 20 years and are expected to rise by 50 percent more by 2050 as industrial mercury emissions increase, according to a 2009 study led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and Harvard University.

Mercury-containing plants and tiny animals are eaten by smaller fish that are then gobbled up by larger fish, whose tissue accumulates mercury. That’s why larger, longer-living predators such as sharks and swordfish tend to have more of the toxin than smaller fish such as sardines, sole, and trout.

In comments submitted to federal health officials earlier this year, a group of scientists and policy analysts pointed out that a 6-ounce serving of salmon contains about 4 micrograms of mercury vs. 60 micrograms for the same portion of canned albacore tuna—and 170 micrograms for swordfish.

When you eat seafood containing methylmercury, more than 95 percent is absorbed, passing into your bloodstream. It can move throughout your body, where it can penetrate cells in any tissue or organ.

 

 

Perhaps the safest recommendation for this group of women is to eat (and enjoy!) no more than 12 ounces per week of fish, but avoid tuna.  For the rest of us, it might be a good idea to limit tuna consumption, especially canned “light” tuna.

 

 (Yahoo!Images)