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Canned tuna fish can lead to mercury poisoning in children

The mercury laden tuna
A new study from a coalition of advocacy groups has highlighted the risks faced by children who love tuna fish. They reported canned tuna served in public schools of U.S have high mercury quantities in them.

Mercury Policy Project stated children who weekly consume two reasonable servings of white or albacore tuna fish end up with six times more mercury than allowed by the federal authorities.

The Mercury Policy Project
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advices consumption of a 6 ounce white tuna serving only once a week and only about 12 ounces of “light “tuna once a week to satisfy the palates.

Researchers analyzed the mercury content of 59 samples from eight brands of tuna, sold to schools in 11 states.

The “Tuna Surprise” report found albacore or “white” tuna had much higher mercury levels than “light” tuna. It was noted that the average mercury content in light tuna samples ranged from 0.020 to 0.640 μg/g while in albacore it varied from 0.190 to 1.270 μg/g. "Light” tuna that is prepared from a species “skipjack” has reportedly lesser mercury content and should be a preferred option.

Based on the findings of the report, experts advise kids under 55 pounds body weight to eat “light” tuna only once in a month in one meal in limited quantities . The children with body weight more than 55 pounds can have their favorite tuna twice a month.

Mercury poisoning
Organic mercury called Methylmercury is a neurotoxin that gradually builds up in fish . It is found more predominantly in the larger fish like the albacore tuna.

School authorities offer canned tuna as an ideal nutritional food in the subsidized lunch programme for children in schools .But the consumption of fish with high levels of the neurotoxin can lead to neurological effects like lack of coordination, cognitive impairment , kidney and digestive disorders ,sensory impairment, etc in the children.

A scientist and co-author of the report Ned Groth said, “It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that a child is vulnerable to methylmercury poisoning, although there’s no epidemiological evidence right now.”

The report targets to keep the mercury exposure of the children within 25 percent of EPA’s recommendations of a “safe” dose.

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