The Sun Sentinel reports on the findings of high mercury in Florida tuna and calls into question the safety of Gulf seafood

By October 30, 2010Got Mercury?

Nicole Brochu, Our Health columnist of the Sun Sentinel writes:

“And the environmental advocacy group that found seven out of 17 fish purchased from Destin-area supermarkets had mercury levels that were “well above” FDA food safety standards.

What was most disturbing, said GotMercury campaign coordinator Buffy Martin Tarbox, was that one of the ahi tuna samples had nearly three times the allowable level of mercury in it — by far the highest level of the 142 samples the group pulled from all over the country.

The GotMercury investigation, though, does not clearly link the fish to the Gulf waters. The fish sampled were purchased from stores, not pulled from the local waters, and because of vague sourcing labels, it was impossible to tell where most of the fish came from, Tarbox said.

But the report does merit concern, at a minimum, as does the difficulty Tarbox has had in getting the folks at NOAA to say whether any of the testing they are conducting of Gulf fish and waters includes testing for heavy metals like mercury, despite the government’s insistence that it has had been nothing but candid and transparent in releasing its results.

GotMercury is hardly the first to call on the federal government to be more open and stringent in its testing of Gulf seafood. An August report by the Journal of the American Medical Association raised questions about the government’s results and cautioned consumers that the Gulf oil spill remains a threat to human health and seafood safety. (NOAA has refuted the report and stands by its testing.) That same month, The Associated Press ran a story quoting Louisiana fishermen openly questioning the safety of seafood caught in waters where splotches of oil were still washing up daily in reopened fishing grounds. “They capped the well, they stopped the oil, so now they’re trying to hurry up and get us back working to where they can say everything’s fine when it’s not,” one shrimper was quoted as saying. “It’s not fine.”

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