May 13 - Judge fillets warning for mercury in tuna

Currently in the U.S., 44 states have issued advisories for mercury contaminated fish. Restaurants, grocery stores and fish markets post warning signs that larger fish, such as tuna, swordfish and shark contain concentrations of mercury that exceed safe levels for pregnant women and women of child-baring age. But the debate over mercury contamination recently extended to canned and packaged tuna. The Tri Valley Herald reports on a state judge that ruled in favor of industry and cancelled the requirement to have a mercury warning label on store-shelved tuna.

California has lost its battle to require warning labels on canned tuna after a state judge concluded any warning of mercury contamination would needlessly scare people away from the fish.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero filleted the state's case on every point, declaring the state's effort to impose a warning had basis in neither science nor law.

In a 127-page ruling, issued late Thursday, Dondero concluded any mercury found in fish is naturally occurring and that the threshold proposed by the state for mercury in seafood was so low that every type of seafood sold commercially would need to display a warning.

"Finally, science came to the forefront," said David Burney, director of the U.S. Tuna Foundation, an industry trade group. "I'm hoping people will see this as the first time someone actually looked at the science and made a common-sense decision on one of the healthiest foods on supermarket shelves."

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Mercury is a naturally occurring metal in nature. It also happens to be released into the environment by incineration and steel smelting facilities, polluting water bodies (where bacteria ingest it, transforming it into methyl mercury, and is consumer by fish) and nearby soil. CAW is working with Assembly Member Lloyd Levine and Auto Industry representatives to establish a mercury switch removal campaign to reduce the amount of mercury going to smelting facilities in scrap vehicles.

TAKE ACTION to help reduce mercury pollution in California