Because we purchase only troll-caught fish weighing 15 lbs or less, Vital Choice albacore contains substantially less mercury than is found in standard canned albacore.
The mercury content of individual fish will vary, but tests by Oregon State University show that the smaller, younger albacore tuna caught by the troll fishery that supplies our tuna average less mercury than the generally much larger, older tuna caught for canning by national brands.
And because we choose only smaller fish from this certified-sustainable troll fishery, testing by independent laboratories confirm that Vital Choice albacore averages substantially less mercury than national brands of "white" (albacore) tuna.
Based on tests in 2013 and 2014, the average mercury content of Vital Choice albacore is about 0.25 ppm. (Test results obtained from 2008 through 2014 ranged from 0.16 ppm to 0.271 ppm.)
In contrast, the FDA-reported average mercury concentration in fresh and canned albacore is 0.354 ppm (click here to see the FDA chart
The FDA's average figure (0.35 ppm) is higher than our average (0.25 ppm) because the FDA tested standard canned and fresh albacore, most of which is older and larger than ours.
In addition to being the purest fish, our smaller albacore also have higher average levels of omega-3s per pound.
This is in contrast to larger, long-line caught albacore canned by national brands, which are higher in mercury and lower in healthy fats per pound. And those larger albacore get cooked twice, which further reduces their omega-3 levels.
Albacore tuna test results from Consumer Reports (2011) and the organization Mercury Policy (2003) averaged 0.475 ppm and 0.5 ppm, respectively.
This means that the average mercury level in our albacore ranges from 29% to 50% lower than the average levels in national brands of canned albacore, and that it falls 75% below the FDA's limit of 1.0 ppm.
Note: As with albacore, the U.S. FDA's tests of yellowfin (ahi) tuna show an average methylmercury level of 0.354 ppm. Unlike the situation with our albacore — which comes from a local fisherman — we are not able to select smaller yellowfin tuna.
You will find more information on our Purity page
- Consumer Reports magazine: January 2011. Accessed at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/january/food/mercury-in-tuna/overview/index.htm
- Bender, MT (June 2003). Canned Tuna, Mercury Policy Project. Accessed athttp://www.mercurypolicy.org/new/documents/CanTheTuna061903.pdf
- U.S. FDA. Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2010). Accessed at http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm115644.htm