Mar 6 - Toxic Tuna: Tests Indicate Sushi Exceeds FDA Mercury Levels

Los Angeles Times staff writer Jerry Hirsch today reported that tests of LA area sushi restaurants by the consumer/environmental group revealed that the levels of mercury in tuna samples exceeded

But now a public health advocacy group is warning about the safety of tuna sushi and questioning the Food and Drug Administration's system of monitoring the mercury levels in fish, based on tests on a small sample of such delicacies at Los Angeles restaurants.

The group,, purchased sushi from five top Zagat-rated restaurants in Southern California and from the Benihana Inc. chain in late January. Instead of eating the orders, the Forrest Knolls, Calif.-based organization took the fish for testing at CRG Marine Laboratories in Torrance.

The mercury levels of the 12 tuna samples averaged about double the FDA standard, and a quarter of the orders were near or above the limit where the agency says fish should not be sold, said Eli Saddler, a public health analyst and attorney for

"Eating sushi has become the new Russian roulette," Saddler said.

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Californians Against Waste has been active on a number of fronts to reduce sources of mercury in the environment. We are currently working with Assembly Member Lloyd Levine, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, auto dismantlers and auto manufacturers a a statewide program to recover and recycling mercury containing switches from automobiles.