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List of Safer Tuna - Environmental Group Says Mercury Levels High in Tuna Caught in Ecuador and Mexico - Trader Joes and Dolphin Safe Best

July 12th 2006

List of Safer Tuna - Environmental Group Says Mercury Levels High in Tuna Caught in Ecuador and Mexico - Trader Joes and Dolphin Safe Best

Can of Tuna

The environmental group, Defenders of Wildlife, says that canned tuna from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico can contain mercury levels 30 percent to 50 percent higher than the federal limit.  It is believed that larger fish have more mercury because they are older and have been exposed to the substance longer.

Tuna caught in Thailand and the United States have less mercury because the fishing is usually done in “dolphin safe” conditions. This type of fishing is more likely to net smaller tuna with less mercury.

The canners in Mexico and Ecuador usually buy from fishers who drop their nets near schools of dolphins.  This usually assures they get the larger / older Tuna.  These tuna usually have the higher levels of Mercury. 


The lowest levels of Tuna Came from US canners including Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and Starkist tuna.  At the bottom of the list were four varieties of Trader Joe's brand tuna from Thailand with levels as low as .012 parts per million.  Calmex light brand topped thelist at at 1.4 parts per million.

Ingestion of high levels of mercury can be dangerous.  Mercury has been linked to heart and kidney damage in adults and to learning disabilities and developmental disorders in children.

So what is a safe amount to eat?  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says consumers can eat up to 12 ounces (about 2 meals) of tuna a week.  Pregnant women and children should only eat fish and shellfish with lower concentrations of mercury.


The Defender’s of Wildlife recommend that this be cut in half.  They say that adults should only consume 6 ounces per week and children half of that. 

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