We Did Consumer Reports Work for Them

How Worried Should You Be About Consumer Reports?

When we challenged reporter, Lauren Kirchner and her team at Consumer Reports, to release all their mercury-in-canned-tuna testing data and put it in perspective with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Action Level and “Level of Concern,” we thought it was a pretty simple request. Apparently, it wasn’t because rather than a full clarification of the facts we got… nothing but crickets.

So, in order to help folks understand exactly what Consumer Reports found we were able to piece together the raw data from 19 of the 30 tests conducted as part of its How Worried Should You Be About Mercury in Your Tuna? article. The results are below and speak for themselves.

Do those findings surprise you? Perhaps as much as Consumer Reports was surprised when CBS Mornings Anchor, Tony Dokoupil, sat through a four-minute segment on their recent report before declaring, “Well, I will not be abstaining, I like my tuna with pickles, mayo, olive oil, and lemon. All of it in there, a little dill, salt, and pepper; it is delicious.”

Hmm… not quite the fearmongering response they’d hoped for? 

But wait, there are more surprises. Reporter, Lauren Kirchner, was once a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her work related to something called algorithmic bias. This basically means systematic and repeatable errors in how you crunch numbers can create unfair or inaccurate outcomes. A fancy way to say, cooking the books. Dare we say, when you look at those numbers and you read Consumer Reports recommendations to avoid or curtail tuna consumption the books seem kinda cooked. Alert the irony police.

Oh, and one more thing. Were we the only ones who noticed Consumer Reports bury this little nugget, laundered in as a piece of quiet “optimism?” Eighty percent of the mercury levels measured were, “actually lower than the average mercury levels the FDA measured from 1990 to 2010.”

Perhaps it’s time for greater editorial review at Consumer Reports. Or maybe it’s long overdue? You be the judge, but one thing is for sure, you don’t have to judge whether your canned tuna is safe to consume.