Ahi (Bigeye) Tuna High In Mercury, New FDA Data Shows
Ahi, Popular Sushi and Steak Fish Loaded With Mercury
Forest Knolls, CA – Revised FDA data just released shows that ahi (bigeye tuna) is high in mercury, averaging 0.639 ppm of mercury. The highest mercury test result in ahi (bigeye tuna) exceeded the FDA’s 1.0 ppm “action level.” (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html). Sushi and tuna steaks of bigeye tuna are commonly sold as “ahi” in restaurants and stores.
The FDA and EPA already warn women and children to restrict their consumption of albacore tuna (0.357 parts per million, or ppm, or mercury) because of the dangers of methylmercury, a powerful neurotoxin, but currently fail to do so for bigeye. Ahi (bigeye tuna) has nearly twice as much mercury as albacore on average.
“The updated FDA data shows that the FDA should immediately revise its March 2004 mercury in seafood advisory to include ahi (bigeye tuna) as a fish for women and children to avoid,” said Eli Saddler, public health analyst for GotMercury.Org. By comparison, the FDA and EPA warn women and children not to eat king mackerel (0.730 ppm), swordfish (0.97 ppm), shark (0.988 ppm), and tilefish (1.45 ppm).
“The only responsible action for the FDA is to revise their warnings and alert the public. At this time, the FDA has failed to post a press release about the new data on their web site, ” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network and its GotMercury.org program.
Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) is one of the two species known as ahi in Hawai`i and is a popular seafood item, especially in sushi restaurants. Consumers are at risk from eating ahi (usually as fresh tuna steaks and in sushi) and should be aware of the risks of consuming too much ahi, especially women who are or intend to become pregnant and children. Children are especially vulnerable to methylmercury, the toxic organic form found in fish, because it can harm neurological development – resulting lower IQ, heart irregularities, and motor skill problems.
“GotMercury.Org is updating our mercury-in-seafood calculator today so that consumers will have the best available, latest data for calculating their risk from methylmercury in ahi and other fish,” said Eli Saddler, public health analyst for GotMercury.Org.
“Eating tuna is like playing Russian Roulette because the FDA does not test and remove individual fish determined to have mercury levels above the action level of 1 ppm, like Canada and the European Union do,” stated Saddler. “Without regular testing and action by the FDA, there is no way to know how much mercury you are ingesting with the individual fish you purchase.”
“While affordable, rapid testing of fish for mercury exists, neither the government nor most seafood retailers are using it yet in the US, but GotMercury.Org and Turtle Island are calling upon both the FDA and large retailers to start using the new technology immediately to protect public health,” stated Steiner.
GotMercury.Org, a free, online mercury-in-seafood calculator will be revised today to reflect the FDA’s updated mercury in tuna data. GotMercury.Org educates consumers on healthier seafood choices by using the EPA and FDA data to calculate how much seafood is safe for in a given week. For example, a 130-pound woman who ate just one 8 ounce ahi filet this week would exceed her EPA safe level of mercury by about 350%. A child of 40 pounds, eating the same ahi steak this week, would exceed the EPA safe level of mercury by about 1139%. Such a level in the child would far exceed the uncertainty factor (sometimes referred to as “safety factor”) used in calculating the FDA’s level.
1. Revised FDA mercury in fish data: www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html
2. Consumers can calculate their mercury exposure from seafood: www.gotmercury.org.
3. B-roll of mercury in seafood images.
4. Electronic Press Kit: www.gotmercury.org/press or www.gotmercury.org/info
5. Interviews with mercury poisoned women and children available.
6. FDA and EPA Consumer Advisory on Methylmercury in Fish: www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg3.html.
Eli Saddler, JD, MPH, MA, Public Health Specialist and Attorney
GotMercury.Org/TIRN, PO Box 400, Forest Knolls, CA 94933
Phone: 415-488-0370 ext. 104; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
GotMercury.org is a project of the Mercury Education and Response Campaign (MERC) of Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN). TIRN is a California-based marine conservation and public health advocacy organization that works to protect sea turtles and other marine species in the United States and in countries around the world while protecting the public mercury in seafood. For more information about TIRN, please visit: www.seaturtles.org
For more information on mercury in seafood and marine species protection please visit the TIRN website at by visiting: www.gotmercury.org/info.