WHAT IT MEANS: So far, there haven't been any illnesses reported due to contaminated cans, but this tuna recall just adds to the bad year that canneries and fisherman are having all over the world. The recession has dampened imports and exports of canned tuna in the U.S. and Thailand (where the U.S. gets most of its imported tuna), according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and limitations have been placed on many tuna stocks due to overfishing. Now, the Gulf of Mexico oil leak is threatening to sicken or kill valuable stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna, prized by sushi restaurants, and the dispersants being used could harm tuna eggs, preventing reproduction and adding to their inabilities to overcome overfishing, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Which all begs the question, should you even bother with tuna? Independent tests for mercury in tuna have revealed that nearly all canned and fresh tuna on the market exceed the safe levels of mercury set by the Environmental Protection Agency. And, after all, canned tuna comes in cans, which are lined with a toxic chemical called bisphenol A that's been found to disrupt hormones, increase inflammation (which can lead to heart disease), and effect the reproductive development of babies. Rodale.com will be looking into whether or not tuna really should be a part of a healthy diet in the coming days, but until then, here are a few tuna alternatives to satisfy your seafood cravings.
• Buy American. Tuna caught off the California coast is one of the safest tunas to eat because the stocks are younger and therefore have lower levels of mercury. They're also caught in a manner that's easier on other aquatic wildlife: Rather than using nets, which result in a lot of bycatch and harm to other species, fishermen out there use ordinary fishing poles. You can purchase American Tuna brand Pacific tuna, which happens to come in BPA-free cans, online at Heritage Foods USA. Another brand of low-mercury tuna packaged in BPA-free cans is Wild Planet, which you may also find at a nearby natural foods store.
• Learn to love salmon filets. And other forms of seafood. Tuna has omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain health, but so do other healthier and more sustainably caught fish like wild Alaskan salmon and sardines, as well as other fish species that are on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Super Green List of seafood that is high in omega-3s, low in contaminants, and fished in more environmentally responsible manners.