California A.G. seeks to ban the can, but tuna packers smell something fishy

Two recently released studies encourage people to eat seafood such as canned tuna for the substantial health benefits it provides people of all ages. However, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is attempting to discourage canned tuna consumption by all population groups by forcing tuna canners to place unscientific warning labels on their products.

"Obviously there is a disconnect between science and politics in the Attorney General's office," said David Burney, Executive Director of the U.S. Tuna Foundation. "We should be working to give people the best possible food advice, not unfounded warnings."

The issue is scheduled to be heard Wednesday, October 19, in San Francisco Superior Court.

A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston found that eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as canned tuna, during pregnancy can aid in fetal brain development. The study says that increased fish consumption during the second trimester of pregnancy led to increased performance in mental development once the children were born. The researchers specifically site canned chunk light tuna as an beneficial dietary component for pregnant women.

The Harvard findings are consistent with federal guidelines encouraging seafood consumption by everyone for its substantial benefits. To help a narrowly defined population group — women who are pregnant, nursing or who may become pregnant — choose fish that are low in mercury, FDA and EPA identified five commonly eaten fish with very low mercury levels: shrimp, salmon, Pollock, catfish and canned light tuna. According to the government's advisory, pregnant and nursing women, women who might become pregnant and young children can safely eat up to 12 ounces a week of these fish. The government advisory also tells these special groups that they can safely eat up to six ounces a week of canned albacore tuna.

A separate study released this week praised seafood's ability to protect against cognitive decline in older individuals. The study, published in the Archives of Neurology, determined that individuals over the age of 65 could slow cognitive by as much as 13 percent by eating seafood. The study cited tuna fish sandwiches as one of the studied seafood categories.

"These studies confirm the overwhelming benefits of eating seafood at every stage of life," Burney said. "We urge the Attorney General to think about the health of all Californians and reconsider his political lawsuit against canned tuna."

Canned tuna does not violate Proposition 65 standards and Lockyer's suit is the first of its type to invoke Proposition 65 on a safe and healthy food. These studies are among the many that tout the healthy benefits of eating seafood as part of a healthy diet.

— As reported by Business Wire

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