Canned Tuna

Choosing The Right Tuna.

Tips on Choosing the Right Tuna.

 Of all fish, tuna is the most commonly consumed fish, mainly through canned tuna and sushi. From canned tuna, we can easily prepare lots of nutritious meal, which become a good source of protein and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. No wonder we always have stock of canned tuna in our fridge, as we regularly use canned tuna in our diet: in our sandwich and burger that fill our lunch box, and in our salad, spaghetti, casserole or other hundreds choices of tuna recipe we can pick for our dinner. 

However some kinds of tuna are endangered, being over-caught, or caught in a method that harmful to the environment and the other marine species, like turtle, shark, seabirds and dolphin. In addition to this, the high levels of mercurymethyl in some kinds of tuna will affect health risks, especially for children under six years and pregnant women or nursing mother. 

Recommended Tuna Consumption:

There are seven tuna species that are caught and consumed: Albacore, Bigeye, Skipjack, Yellowfin, and 3 species of Bluefin: Northern Bluefin, Pacific Bluefin, and Southern Bluefin.  When those tuna are canned, they are commonly packed as : 

1.      Solid white tuna” made from of Albacore tuna only and is regulated by the FDA.

2.      Chunk Light Tuna” on the can means it can be any kind of tuna but not Albacore. Such as Big Eye, Yellowfin, Blackfin or any other species of the darker fleshed tuna.

Larger types of tuna, like bluefin, yellowfin, bluefin and albacore, have higher mercury level than the smaller type, as larger fish accumulate more contaminants in their bodies than the smaller ones.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issue fish consumption advisory for  women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to consume not more than 12 ounces ( 2 average meals) canned light tuna or 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.  

In relation with the mercury content, The Environmental Protection Agency recommended guidelines on safe consumption of canned tuna. Young children, women of childbearing age, pregnant women and nursing mother who are most vulnerable to mercury effect should strictly adopt the guides of fish consumption.    

Tuna is a rich-nutrient food and should be persisted as one of good protein alternatives; however we ought to consider the following environmental facts before choosing the right tuna to consume:

Tuna and the Ecological Sustainability:  

  • You might find yellowfin tuna or also known as tuna ahi in some chunk light canned tuna. These tuna are often caught with a purse seine net, a way of trapping fish with a large net   that also traps lots of other fish and sea species. This method of tuna harvesting causes the death of hundreds of thousands dolphins every year. Tuna ahi also contain high level mercury, thus it is not a good choice for both your health and the environment.


  • Bluefin tuna is in critical risk of extinction that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently lists this species on its annual list of the most threatened species around the world. This list of “10 to Watch in 2010″ is addressed to protect 10 species of animal that are in most critical population. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has overseen a 72 percent decline in the adult population of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stock of bluefin tuna and an 82 percent decline in the adult population of the western Atlantic stock. Another reason of the dramatic decline is Atlantic bluefin tuna larvae have only a 1 in 40 million chance of reaching adulthood. Those few lucky survivors can live for 15-30 years, if only they can escape from their predators - large sharks, toothed whales like killer whales and pilot whales and ….you, sushi lover.  Yes, usually bluefin is served as highest grade of sushi and sashimi, and also sold as tuna steak. The large demand of this kind of tuna has caused the species become over-exploited that might drive to extinction.


  • Tuna steak is found to be containing higher mercury than canned tuna, this because tuna steak comes from bigger types of tuna: Bluefin, Bigeye and Yellowfin, that accumulate larger amount of mercury contamination than the smaller type of tuna like skipjack.


  • World Wildlife Fund reveals that of all the above 7 species tuna that are commonly consumed, skipjack is the only species that is not already considered over-exploited. Luckily Skipjack (Katsuwonus Pelamis), also known as Striped Tuna or Stripes, happened to be the safest choice of tuna to be consumed due to its lowest mercury content. A study found that the mercury content in skipjack is only 1/3  of the mercury level found in the larger tuna. Most canned light tuna is of this skipjack.

Viewing the above facts,  skipjack tuna seems to be the most proper kind of tuna  to be consumed ;  it is good both for your health and the environment sustainability.

Fulfilling our protein diet can help balancing the ecological  sustainability. Fish, including healthy tuna, can be one of those  good alternatives if we choose the right fish and follow the consumption guidelines.


         You might also want to learn about  :

         - The risk of eating contaimated fish.

         - Information on mercury level on fish.

         - Choosing Safe Sushi



Here are some selection of low-mercury canned tuna for your safe consumption :

Did you like this? Share it:

Leave a Reply