Here's a question that we get quite often, and it's one that deserves a detailed answer, as the response touches on purity as well as culinary quality:
Dear Vital Choice,
Your Albacore Tuna tastes much better than usual supermarket tuna—almost like fresh fish. How come?
Felix Bliss, Waltham MA
Dear Mr. Bliss,
The canned Albacore Tuna sold by major brands generally comes from larger, leaner fish that’s been cooked twice – and because of this, much of its fresh flavor and healthful omega-3s are lost in the process.
Most canned Albacore comes from very large canneries using assembly-line techniques to process huge quantities of tuna at a time.
In the major commercial canneries the Albacore are cooked whole on large racks. The cooked fish then travel down an assembly line, where workers remove the skin and pull the meat off the bones. During this process many of the natural juices, oils, and omega-3s drain off the meat and never make it into the cans.
The pre-cooked meat is then placed in cans with water, broth, or vegetable oils before being cooked for the second time.
Thanks to this double-cooking practice, standard canned tuna tastes “fishy”.
It’s easier for big companies to work with larger, leaner, older, Albacore in the assembly line environment.
This is one reason why most canned tuna is “long-lined.” This harvest method involves deploying a long submerged line with baited hooks, which tend to attract the larger, older fish having higher mercury levels.
To optimize the purity of Vital Choice albacore tuna, we purchase only from fishermen and boats we know. They work almost like recreational fishermen, using shallow-depth, single-hook lines to catch one small tuna at a time: a method called "troll-caught".
We are fully aware of how and where the fish are caught, processed and stored prior to our taking possession.
In addition, we select only the smallest of the available troll-caught fish: no more than 12 pounds in size, versus 25 to 80 pounds for the Albacore in standard tuna brands.
Not only does our hook-and-line harvest method attract the “cleaner”, surface-dwelling juvenile fish, but it is also more sustainable than long-lining, which results in greater by-catch of non-targeted species.
Last but not least, our younger, smaller troll-caught albacore tuna averages less mercury than standard canned albacore. There are about 0.25 parts per million (ppm) in Vital Choice albacore, versus 0.34 ppm in standard canned albacore.
For more on this topic, see “Vital Choice Tuna: Safer and Tastier.”
Thanks for asking. I hope this answers your question!