Consumer Reports Continues to Mislead on Seafood and Health

We recently sent a letter to the editors of Consumer Reports once again challenging their chronic habit of misreporting and manipulating the facts on seafood nutrition. Their most recent distortion comes in a direct mail piece selling their OnHealth newsletter in which the editors lazily claim that white albacore tuna is not healthy because it can be high in mercury.

Mercury from naturally occurring volcanic activity on our oceans floors is found in trace amounts in all wild-caught fish including tuna. What Consumer Reports doesnt tell you is both light and white tuna fall well within the Food and Drug Administrations threshold for safety, a standard that includes a one-thousand percent safety factor. That means a person would have to have mercury levels ten times higher than the FDAs highest threshold to be concerned. In fact Americas top ten favorite fish are all considered low mercury fish. So to state white tuna is slightly higher in mercury, therefore implying that white tuna is an unhealthy choice, provides no value to consumers looking for concrete health information about seafood and actually leads to public harm.

Its a well known fact that Americans are seafood deficient, eating a meager 15 pounds a year of seafood compared with 70+ pounds of chicken, 100+ pounds of beef and 600+ pounds of dairy.

Time and again, research has shown that lack of seafood in the diet contributes to weaker cognitive development in children and worse cardiovascular outcomes in adults. Indeed, one peer-reviewed study concluded that fish-poor diets contributed to 84,000 preventable cardiac deaths each year.

Canned tuna is a convenient, inexpensive, and widely available source of omega-3s, which organizations from the USDA to the World Health Organization agree are critical to heart and brain health.

When Consumer Reports tells readers to buy one kind of smartphone over another, or to use a particular brand of tomato sauce, it is expressing an opinion. But when it tells Americanswho are already eating too little seafoodto avoid fish it is actively contributing to an ongoing public health crisis, one with real, measurable consequences.

One would think that with the stakes so high, Consumer Reports would swear off mercury fearmongering and this cheap form of deception. Unfortunately this is merely the latest chapter in a long history of callous disregard for the health of their readers. In the past, the publication has aped the anti-tuna talking points of agenda-driven ideological activists while ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus that those groups oppose, and conducted unscientific tests while misinterpreting or cherry-picking evidence to play on readers misplaced fears.

Unfortunately, Consumer Reports appears to have decided that sacrificing facts for fear is the best way to increase their subscriptions. In the name of profit, theyd rather scare consumers than inform them.

Consumer Reports Timeline Infographic