MSN Misses the Mark on Mercury

MSN currently features a highly misleading article by Grant Stoddard of BestLife [“The 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You’re 40+”, November 19, 2016.) It peddles in dangerous falsehoods about tuna consumption, and appears to come from an unvetted source with no track record of credible writing on nutrition.

When Mr. Stoddard writes about albacore tuna as being “high in mercury” and “could lead to cognitive decline” he is directly contravening both federal guidelines and the scientific consensus. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets limits for mercury in seafood at 1.0 parts per million (ppm). This limit includes a ten-fold safety-factor built in, meaning a fish would have to exceed 10.0 ppm to approach levels of concern.  According to the FDA, the average can of albacore has 0.35 ppm and the average can of light contains 0.1ppm. This important perspective is left completely out of this reporting.

If that mercury limit were a speed limit, light tuna would be traveling 5.5 mph in a 55mph zone and albacore would be traveling 16.5 mph. Both demonstrably safe and healthy.

In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recommends Americans eat at least two servings of seafood per week. They also specifically recommend tuna as a healthy option.

Stoddard’s article ignores these facts, and contributes to the dangerous notion that nutritious, affordable, and accessible seafood sources like canned tuna should be avoided based on ancient and over blown mercury fears. This isn’t an inconsequential error. Unnecessarily scaring consumers away from seafood contributes to an ongoing public health crisis that contributes to 84,000 preventable deaths each year according to Harvard University research.

Watch this space to find out if MSN decides to correct the record or if they’ll let poorly researched misinformation stand as nutrition advice.