More of the Same from Safe Catch

You may have recently seen reporting about something called Safe Catch, it’s promoting a seafood product that is actually a solution… in search of a problem. News about “a new tuna manufacturer called Safe Catch” is more like a repacking of a failed product; Safe Harbor Certified Seafood.

Why has the company’s first attempt at profiting off mercury fear-mongering been such a disappointment? To begin, the very industry Safe Harbor so aggressively defamed (with claims that hundreds of thousands of children are at risk for mercury poisoning) are the very ones they wanted as their customer base. Whoops. So, while that hasn’t been a success for Safe Harbor, this latest endeavor is another chance to use mercury-testing technology by targeting a new audience to scare: the premium health food buyer.

But inherent problems with Safe Harbor’s business model exist for Safe Catch as well: the mercury levels in commercial seafood are just the same as they were nearly 100 years ago, no one in the United States is getting sick from mercury in fish (there has never been a case of mercury-poisoning from the normal consumption of commercial seafood in any published medical journal), and testing tuna – that have contained trace amounts of mercury since the beginning of time – does not add any value to a customer, nor does it make the product safer.

FDA’s limit for mercury in seafood is 1.0 parts per million (ppm), with a ten-fold safety-factor built in, meaning a fish would actually have to exceed dose levels of 10.0 ppm to approach any adverse effects. According to the FDA, canned light tuna has 0.128 ppm and canned white tuna has 0.35 ppm, far below the FDA’s threshold and any levels associated with harm.

In fact, last June the FDA released its Net Effects Report, based on 10 years of peer-reviewed published science that was used as the basis for the updated draft advice to pregnant women about eating seafood. The report found that pregnant women could safely consume 164 ounces of canned light tuna and 56 ounces of canned albacore tuna every week. And that’s regular old canned tuna, not some expensive brand that makes low mercury claims.

Let’s put the levels of mercury in canned tuna in perspective. If the 1ppm FDA limit is akin to the 55 MPH speed limit then run of the mill Albacore Tuna is going 16.5 MPH and Light Tuna is going 5.5MPH.

Meanwhile, Safe Catch’s website is hard to look at for anyone in the legitimate health or nutrition community:

  • While they bash brands that “precook away nutrients” doctors, dietitians and groups like the American Heart Association call canned tuna (the pre-cooked variety) one of the healthiest foods on the planet that you should be eating.
  • They go on to congratulate themselves as being, “The only brand with a tuna that meets Consumer Reports ‘Low Mercury’ criteria for pregnant moms and children. The strictest mercury limits of any brand.” They forget to mention, however, that the FDA blasted Consumer Reports for its last misleading report on canned tuna saying, “the methodology employed by Consumer Reports overestimates the negative effects and overlooks the strong body of scientific evidence published in the last decade.”
  • Safe Catch also boasts that it’s, “The only brand with a tuna that meets Environmental Working Group’s “Best Seafood” criteria for mercury levels. Eat pure. Live pure.” Ah, yes, it’s always good to have the professional fear monger and anti-vaccination-conspiracy-theory-pusher, promoting your product.

If marketing is able to convince American shoppers to pay more for a product that is no different before or after testing, perhaps science can convince them that the lightness in their wallet counts as weight loss.