The mercury in tuna story was the number one most emailed story that day, so people are taking notice. This follows on a recent report of high mercury levels in swordfish.
But wait. There's a controversy brewing. The New York Times, that bastion of high standards, now stands accused of egregious misconduct by the National Fisheries Institute, the people who bring you fish. NFI is a trade association that helps seafood venders sell more seafood. Who do we expect to be more objective and less biased here, the NY Times or the NFI?
The NFI is coming out firing both barrels at the Times. According ot their press release, "NFI will be demanding an explanation from Times editors for how these basic breaches in the newspaper’s own standards could have occurred and will also be requesting a formal correction on specific errors."
Judge for yourself...here's what was wrong with the story, according to the NFI (excerpts only)
- There is little if any acknowledgment or explanation of the widely accepted benefits associated with eating seafood...
- The sourcing found throughout the report is almost completely one-sided...sources consulted are (mostly) experts with clear self-interests and or (biased) activist groups
-...Burros chose to have her Sushi samples tested by Dr. Michael Gochfeld. As part of his own work Gochfeld treats patients for issues related to mercury.
-Kate Mahaffey from the EPA tells readers that a rise in blood mercury levels in this country “appears” to be related to Americans eating fish that are higher in mercury. This is pure speculation...
----Environmental Defense is a political activist group with scant expertise in the medical science of food consumption. Burros...describ(es) them disingenuously as “work[ing]…to improve human health.”
-Throughout the article there is a sensational mischaracterization of the RfD (reference dose)...
-In mentioning the levels of mercury found in the samples tested Burros fails to explain that the FDA’s “Action Level” is a calculated estimate that also includes a ten-fold safety factor.
Do the warnings matter to real people buying tuna? A follow-up story in the NY Times found customers buying the tuna sushi anyway, including at stores identified by name in the mercury article. Reactions from customers included:
“If I become iridescent from it, I become iridescent from it,” said one. “I’ll glow in the dark.” Another customer noted “You could worry about salmonella in the chicken, E. coli in the beef and pesticides in the fruit.”
Some customers were talking about reducing their tuna intake, but it didn't seem to like a big deal to many people. Tweet