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  #1  
Old 01-23-2008, 07:53 PM
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Deadly Tuna Sushi

This from the NY Times on January 23rd.

High Mercury Levels Are Found in Tuna Sushi
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Tuna sushi is a popular item in New York but may be risky.


By MARIAN BURROS
Published: January 23, 2008
Recent laboratory tests found so much mercury in tuna sushi from 20 Manhattan stores and restaurants that at most of them, a regular diet of six pieces a week would exceed the levels considered acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Tainted Fish

(January 23, 2008)



Times Topics: Mercury in Tuna

Sushi from 5 of the 20 places had mercury levels so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market. The sushi was bought by The New York Times in October.




“No one should eat a meal of tuna with mercury levels like those found in the restaurant samples more than about once every three weeks," said Dr. Michael Gochfeld, professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J.

Dr. Gochfeld analyzed the sushi for The Times with Dr. Joanna Burger, professor of life sciences at Rutgers University. He is a former chairman of the New Jersey Mercury Task Force and also treats patients with mercury poisoning.
The owner of a restaurant whose tuna sushi had particularly high mercury concentrations said he was shocked by the findings. “I’m startled by this,” said the owner, Drew Nieporent, a managing partner of Nobu Next Door. “Anything that might endanger any customer of ours, we’d be inclined to take off the menu immediately and get to the bottom of it.”

Although the samples were gathered in New York City, experts believe similar results would be observed elsewhere.
“Mercury levels in bluefin are likely to be very high regardless of location,” said Tim Fitzgerald, a marine scientist for Environmental Defense, an advocacy group that works to protect the environment and improve human health.

Most of the restaurants in the survey said the tuna The Times had sampled was bluefin. In 2004 the Food and Drug Administration joined with the Environmental Protection Agency to warn women who might become pregnant and children to limit their consumption of certain varieties of canned tuna because the mercury it contained might damage the developing nervous system. Fresh tuna was not included in the advisory. Most of the tuna sushi in the Times samples contained far more mercury than is typically found in canned tuna.
Over the past several years, studies have suggested that mercury may also cause health problems for adults, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and neurological symptoms.

Dr. P. Michael Bolger, a toxicologist who is head of the chemical hazard assessment team at the Food and Drug Administration, did not comment on the findings in the Times sample but said the agency was reviewing its seafood mercury warnings. Because it has been four years since the advisory was issued, Dr. Bolger said, “we have had a study under way to take a fresh look at it.”

No government agency regularly tests seafood for mercury.
Tuna samples from the Manhattan restaurants Nobu Next Door, Sushi Seki, Sushi of Gari and Blue Ribbon Sushi and the food store Gourmet Garage all had mercury above one part per million, the “action level” at which the F.D.A. can take food off the market. (The F.D.A. has rarely, if ever, taken any tuna off the market.) The highest mercury concentration, 1.4 parts per million, was found in tuna from Blue Ribbon Sushi. The lowest, 0.10, was bought at Fairway.

When told of the newspaper’s findings, Andy Arons, an owner of Gourmet Garage, said: “We’ll look for lower-level-mercury fish. Maybe we won’t sell tuna sushi for a while, until we get to the bottom of this.” Mr. Arons said his stores stocked yellowfin, albacore and bluefin tuna, depending on the available quality and the price.
At Blue Ribbon Sushi, Eric Bromberg, an owner, said he was aware that bluefin tuna had higher mercury concentrations. For that reason, Mr. Bromberg said, the restaurant typically told parents with small children not to let them eat “more than one or two pieces.”

Koji Oneda, a spokesman for Sushi Seki, said the restaurant would talk to its fish supplier about the issue. A manager at Sushi of Gari, Tomi Tomono, said it warned pregnant women and regular customers who “love to eat tuna” about mercury levels. Mr. Tomono also said the restaurant would put warning labels on the menu “very soon.”

Scientists who performed the analysis for The Times ran the tests several times to be sure there was no mistake in the levels of methylmercury, the form of mercury found in fish tied to health problems. The work was done at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, in Piscataway, a partnership between Rutgers and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2008, 12:13 AM
FlyFishFrostie FlyFishFrostie is offline
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Saw a similar article in the Globe yesterday. Wow, that's a bummer about the mercury. It might cause the demand for bluefin to drop, prices to fall, and commercial tuna fishermen to reduce their take. Never thought that pollution could be a good thing.
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  #3  
Old 01-24-2008, 12:17 AM
FlyFishFrostie FlyFishFrostie is offline
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I like the way the NY Times says that eating sushi could be "risky." Playing Russian roulette is risky, eating mercury is more like playing with six full chambers.

Another funny thing is that exhorbitant mercury levels in bluefin have been known about for decades, and now the press is acting as though this is a big surprise and brand-new discovery.

Last edited by FlyFishFrostie; 01-24-2008 at 12:19 AM..
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  #4  
Old 01-24-2008, 10:48 AM
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Yikes

That will take some of the fun out of ordering sushi. Maybe that will help to save them by poisoning their hunters.

I lay my hopes of not poisoning myself in that I eat mostly schoolies, which are what, 5-6 yrs old max? My thinking is that, that is allot less time to concentrate the mercury than a large or giant and, therefore, safer to eat.

Anyone have numbers on mercury for SBFTs in the NW Atlantic?
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  #5  
Old 01-24-2008, 11:15 AM
AdamFishes AdamFishes is offline
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yellowtail is the best ! God I love sushi
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  #6  
Old 01-24-2008, 12:22 PM
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Due Diligence

No one will argue that Mercury exists in tuna. The question to ask is: what level of mercury consumption is dangerous? The "safe" levels are low for most adults and offer little health risk; however, they are important guidelines to follow for pregnant women (and those hoping to become) and children.
That being said, the benefits of seafood (and mercury-tainted tuna) often outweigh the risks of mercury poisoning. Read the recent article in On The Water Magazine (I think it was the December issue) to get a better sense of the issue.

But if the threat of mercury could slow down the consumption of tuna, then threaten, threaten, threaten!
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Old 01-24-2008, 04:21 PM
twofinbluna twofinbluna is offline
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Guys,

They have been using this same tactic for tuna and other fish for a long time now. Don't you think its a bit odd in the timing that this comes out amidst all the calls to stop tuna fishing????? It is well known that the mercury campaign is used by the anti-fishing people.

Check out both sides before you stop eating sushi. Here is one place to look:

http://www.mercuryfacts.org/

I know I am not going to stop eating it, but what you guys do is your call.
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beetlebomb View Post
No one will argue that Mercury exists in tuna. The question to ask is: what level of mercury consumption is dangerous? The "safe" levels are low for most adults and offer little health risk; however, they are important guidelines to follow for pregnant women (and those hoping to become) and children.
That being said, the benefits of seafood (and mercury-tainted tuna) often outweigh the risks of mercury poisoning. Read the recent article in On The Water Magazine (I think it was the December issue) to get a better sense of the issue.

But if the threat of mercury could slow down the consumption of tuna, then threaten, threaten, threaten!
On the Water is where I go for my hard science articles!
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:31 PM
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Interesting article, but it raises more questions than it answers.
I had a doctor's appointment yeasterday, and ran this article by him. His answer didn't surprise me. When dealing with heavy metals, the toxicity associatated with them is cumulative, so the odds of someone getting ill, or even experiencing side effects after consuming some mercury laden fresh tuna once ot twice are pretty slim, if at all. Perhpas if your daily food intake included a piece of fresh tuna daily for years and years, you may begin to experience some of the gasto-intestinal or neurologic symptoms that go along with it?
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Old 01-25-2008, 12:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mendy View Post
On the Water is where I go for my hard science articles!
Dude, if mercury was transmited from licking tuna, don't you think that WhiskeyDick could tell the temperature weeks in advance?
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  #11  
Old 01-25-2008, 12:17 AM
--username-deleted-- --username-deleted-- is offline
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A few thoughts: how many of us here have (or used to, regularly) used their mouths as a third hand through the years while fooling with lead weights/sinkers? From using my teeth as pliers on splitshot, to juggling all manner of fishing lead, I know I did. How many have fired firearms extensively? Swaged/molded/handled lead bullets? Handled car batteries? Just exactly what are the numbers and evidence WRT lead toxicity in human beans? How large, and what age were the original owners of the cuts sampled and tested? Which waters were they from? Is lead poisoning the reason why I can't reliably do calculus in my head after 6 too many ales at the pub? Does this mean that shooting tuna at the boat is healthier than gaffing?

All BS aside, if my wife were pregnant I'd not be serving her any toro or TF sandwiches with cukes until hatching time, but I won't be losing sleep over this 'revelation', nor will I likely be pushing away any plated sushi tuna before me any time soon (that said, I enjoy a wide variety of sushi/sashimi, and while tuna is great, it's but a fraction of most raw fish meals when I belly up to the bar).


Yours in failing hand-eye coordination and memory loss,

L
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Old 01-25-2008, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhonda View Post
A few thoughts: how many of us here have (or used to, regularly) used their mouths as a third hand through the years while fooling with lead weights/sinkers? From using my teeth as pliers on splitshot, to juggling all manner of fishing lead, I know I did. How many have fired firearms extensively? Swaged/molded/handled lead bullets? Handled car batteries? Just exactly what are the numbers and evidence WRT lead toxicity in human beans? How large, and what age were the original owners of the cuts sampled and tested? Which waters were they from? Is lead poisoning the reason why I can't reliably do calculus in my head after 6 too many ales at the pub? Does this mean that shooting tuna at the boat is healthier than gaffing?

All BS aside, if my wife were pregnant I'd not be serving her any toro or TF sandwiches with cukes until hatching time, but I won't be losing sleep over this 'revelation', nor will I likely be pushing away any plated sushi tuna before me any time soon (that said, I enjoy a wide variety of sushi/sashimi, and while tuna is great, it's but a fraction of most raw fish meals when I belly up to the bar).

Yours in failing hand-eye coordination and memory loss,

L
L, bro, please stop being articulate and thoughtful. Don't you know that by now there is no place in modern society for logic and reason? Just look at the overwhelming blue cloud known as smug coming out of California. A far more dangerous form of the evil, war-hawking, individual liberty giving, free-market advocating, smog (which of course is red) that is coming out of the minds of free-thinking people such as ourselves! Through statements so logical and rational, we subject ourselves to Orwellian manifestations of 2nd grade! Have you no soul, man?!

Last edited by Soundking; 01-25-2008 at 12:29 AM..
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Old 01-25-2008, 12:28 AM
--username-deleted-- --username-deleted-- is offline
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OK, so I realize all of a sudden that we're talking about mercury, not lead. Hmm. I hereby change my mind and retract my post above, and my hand's up for those a little concerned about this... Carry on.

L


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Old 01-25-2008, 05:16 AM
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Short article on this on TV last evening. Mentioned that the Pure Food & Drug Administration is considering banning use of Bluefin in sushi.
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:05 AM
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Never really cared for tuna to be honest, I find it somewhat bland if it's not thu-toro. Wonder if hamachi has the same amounts?
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