Health Canada warns about canned albacore tuna

February 20, 2007 in Food Safety, Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, Women's Health

Health Canada warns about canned albacore tuna

Health Canada says women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as young children, should limit the amount of canned albacore tuna they eat.  The department says mercury levels in canned albacore tuna that may exceed Canadians' standards are behind the updated consumption advice. 

But Health Canada says there is no reason to stop eating canned tuna.  It says although the levels in canned albacore tuna are higher than levels in other types of canned tuna, the mercury levels in albacore are generally below the accepted standard as well.

Data collected over several years have shown that levels of mercury in most canned tuna are well below Health Canada's standard. Health Canada is providing the following advice:

  • Women who are or who may become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding can eat up to 4 Food Guide Servings of canned albacore tuna each week. One Food Guide Serving is 75g, 2 ½ oz, 125 ml, or ½ cup.
  • Children between one and four years old can eat up to one Food Guide Serving of albacore tuna each week.
  • Children between five and eleven years old can eat up to two Food Guide Servings of albacore tuna each week.

Canned albacore tuna is not the same as canned light tuna. Canned light tuna contains other species of tuna such as skipjack, yellowfin, and tongol, which are relatively low in mercury. Canned light tuna also tends to be lower in cost relative to albacore tuna. Based on lower mercury levels, Health Canada does not consider it necessary to offer any consumption advice specific to canned light tuna. 

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide recommends at least two Food Guide Servings of 75 grams (½ cup) each week of fish. Choose fish such as char, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout.

Health Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will continue to monitor the levels of mercury in fish available for sale in Canada and will inform Canadians about any changes to its advice related to fish consumption and mercury.

More information is available at:
Health Canada's Mercury Information page.
It's Your Health on Mercury and Human Health.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.