NFI calls latest Consumer Reports mercury in tuna claims “embarrassing failure of journalistic ethics”

Shelves of canned tuna and fish at a supermarket.

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is calling on Consumer Reports to disclose the full details of its research into allegations of mercury contamination in canned tuna.

The article by Consumer Reports, “How Worried Should You Be About Mercury in Your Tuna?” is the latest in a string of similar stories the publication has released dating back to 2014. The new story warns pregnant women to avoid canned tuna altogether due to some cans potentially having “higher levels” of mercury.

Consumer Reports claimed it tested a total of 30 samples of canned tuna, spread across multiple brands, and found “six individual spikes” in mercury content that would “change the FDA’s recommendations about how often someone should eat that particular tuna.”

NFI has called on Consumer Reports to release the full data it has collected, which the publication didn’t do in the story. NFI noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admonished the publication in 2014, saying the report overlooked “the strong body of scientific evidence published in the last decade” highlighting the many health benefits of consuming canned tuna, while exaggerating the negative effects. 

NFI said the survey results it reviewed after it was consulted by Consumer Reports in advance of the story's publication indicated the highest level of mercury discovered by the publication came from a can of albacore tuna containing 0.66 parts per million of mercury – which is still well below the FDA’s actionable limit of 1 part per million. 

“However, more importantly, we note that Consumer Reports never even talks about the action level, and also never explains that the action level includes a 10-fold safety factor,” NFI said. 

NFI said it gave Consumer Reports that information but it didn't appear in the article.

“They just chose to leave this vital information out of the report, opting instead to peddle their obscured findings in search of exactly what they’re getting today; sensational headlines,” NFI said.

NFI called on the publication to release the results of its findings in a blinded chart showing all 30 samples, and to compare them to the FDA’s safety factor. 

“Or better yet – just send NFI the test results and we’ll do it for you. You’ve got our email … we can wait,” NFI said.  

Photo courtesy of ValeStock/Shutterstock


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