“Safe Catch” tuna is here to save you… from what?
The Safe Catch tuna brand has stoked unwarranted consumer fear for years by pitching their product as containing “the lowest mercury of any brand.” The implication, without any scientific basis, is that other brands somehow represent a genuine health risk, and that this risk justifies charging families on a budget triple the price, or more, for “safe catch” canned tuna.
Indeed, the company’s very existence hinges on promoting the dangerous idea that Americans consuming a few cans of tuna a week might be at risk of mercury poisoning. Safe Catch tuna founder Sean Wittenberg claims that his own mother was poisoned by doing just that. But he presents zero evidence of any kind to support this claim. In fact, there has never been a case of mercury toxicity from the normal consumption of commercial seafood recorded in any American medical journal.
Consumer mercury content standards are already extremely rigorous. Specifically, the FDA’s recommended limit for mercury in seafood has a ten-fold safety-factor built in. The FDA’s Net Effects report, which is based on 100 peer-reviewed studies, found that even a pregnant woman could eat tuna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day of the week, without worry.
How does your average can of tuna stack up by the numbers? Well, the FDA recommends eating fish that has less than 1.0 parts per million (ppm) mercury. Canned light tuna has 0.128 ppm and canned white tuna has 0.35 ppm, both far below the FDA’s threshold and any levels associated with harm.
The truth is, Safe Catch’s business model offers a solution in search of a problem. While TechCrunch is reporting that Safe Catch Tuna is “on a mission to eradicate the risk of mercury poisoning from your fish,” they are actually contributing to a nationwide public health crisis. The nutritional and medical communities all agree that Americans desperately need to eat more fish to improve cognitive function and reduce preventable cardiac deaths. Companies like Safe Catch, which exploit mercury myths in a cynical bid to improve their competitive position, will only lead to Americans eating less fish, overall, as they worry unduly about mercury exposure.
This raises serious questions about Safe Catch’s motives. The scientific consensus on mercury and seafood consumption isn’t kept under lock and key. All of this information is available via a quick Google search. So, is Safe Catch unaware of this data, or are they just accidently misleading consumers to make a buck? Neither scenario should give consumers much comfort.