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Tuna Mercury Labeling Lawsuit Goes Back to Court

California Attorney General Fighting for Warnings on Toxic Tuna Cans
Today the First District Court of Appeal will be asked to reverse a pro-industry ruling that blocked warning labels on mercury-laden albacore and other canned tuna. The California Attorney General is seeking to reverse a San Francisco Superior Court decision that prevented requirements for mercury warning labels on cans of albacore and light tuna. The First District Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments beginning at 9:30 am Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Division Four at 350 McAllister St., San Francisco.

Because mercury is known by the state to cause reproductive harm and cancer and is found in canned tuna, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit in 2004 to require labeling under the warning requirements of Proposition 65, the state’s chemical “right-to-know” law.

“Mothers who put tuna in their children’s lunches are never warned that the fish contains mercury,” said Teri Shore, Program Director for the GotMercury.org project of Turtle Island Restoration Network in Forest Knolls, CA. “Let’s hope this court puts people before tuna profits.” Shore will attend the court hearing and is available for interviews.

Gotmercury.org publishes a free online mercury calculator where people can estimate mercury exposure from fish and has won legal actions to require public warning signs to be posted at seafood restaurants and stores in California. A 45-pound child eating one can of light tuna a week would be consuming mercury at a level 40 percent higher than the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended maximum allowable dose of mercury. (See calculator at www.gotmercury.org.) Pregnant women and children are the most at risk for eating too much mercury in fish. See the public health advisory for mercury in fish.

West Coast women have among the highest blood-mercury levels in the U. S., according to the EPA. As many as 630,000 or 15 percent of newborns in the U.S. are at risk each year of neurological defects due to mercury contamination, EPA studies have found. Mercury in the form of methylmercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause slow growth and lowered IQ, brain and kidney damage, cancer, and an increased risk of heart disease, according to the EPA.

Most large-species tuna and swordfish sold in the U. S. typically exceeds the FDA’s for mercury in commercial fish at 1 part per million mercury – which is double the amount allowed by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency for recreational fish. The FDA has never developed a “safe level” for mercury blood levels in people. The standard is based almost entirely on faulty field research from a mercury poisoning in Iraq that never safe levels for mercury exposure. This is documented in the new book “Diagnosis Mercury” by Dr. Jane Hightower of San Francisco. ____________________________________