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Is Canned Tuna Safe?

A. When Consumer Reports found recently that 6% of the canned light tuna samples it analyzed had as much mercury as the average can of albacore, some people were concerned. What many didn’t take into account was that most of the light tuna tested had one-third of the mercury content of the average can of albacore, and also that the dose of mercury in most fish is too small to harm anyone but a young child or a fetus.

Join the conversation: Do You Eat Canned Tuna?

In 2004, the FDA recommended that young children and women of childbearing age eat up to 12 ounces of lower-mercury fish a week (including canned light tuna, shrimp and scallops), limit their consumption of higher-mercury albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week and totally avoid high-mercury shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish. The intent was to help them maximize intake of omega-3 fatty acids (which are critical to a baby’s brain development) and minimize exposure to mercury (which may thwart healthy growth of the nervous system).

Emily Oken, M.D., M.P.H., has studied both sides of this issue. Her 2005 study in Environmental Health Perspectives linked lower infant cognition with both higher levels of mercury and a lower intake of fish during pregnancy. Oken emphasizes that if a pregnant woman chooses to avoid tuna, she should replace it with other sources of omega-3 fats (salmon, sardines, anchovies, DHA-fortified eggs). Oken, who currently is breastfeeding a seven-month-old, continues to eat light tuna—and to feed it to her 2 1/2-year-old.

Our bottom Line: There’s no scientific evidence that mercury in the fish we eat causes any adverse effects in adults. In fact, not eating fish is a far bigger gamble: “Fish protects against stroke and heart disease—two really big killers,” says Josh Cohen, Ph.D., instructor at The Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts New England Medical Center.

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

i eat six tin of fish a day and it helps run each day

Anonymous

12/14/2012 - 8:40am

is canned tuna really bad for you

Anonymous

01/19/2013 - 3:55pm

These Studies make me ill. One day something is good for u and the next day its not. Researchers r wasting good money on giving the public inconclusivE results on almost everything today.we need better researchers who know how to test things properly. Get it together or SHUT UP

Anonymous

05/09/2013 - 7:38am

I just want to know if it is good for cats

Anonymous

06/27/2013 - 9:23am

I am also looking for Tuna caught a packaged in Canada, why can't I find it.?????

Gail_486

02/10/2014 - 9:17pm

if you feed tuna to cats, add several drops of Vit E from a Vit E. oil capsule.... look up on the internet how much, but they do need a little extra E when eating tuna....

Anonymous

03/23/2014 - 8:06pm

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