On March 16th 2016, the FDA published a tuna recall affecting three companies with product processed at the same facility. In total, over 45 000 products were affected after being produced in February 2016.
Bumble Bee, one of the mot popular canned tuna companies, who’s products were affected by the recall, actually warned the FDA about the possible contamination. However, no cases of illness have been directly linked to the product (1).
The contamination occurred in a third-party facility not owned or operated by the company. This facility also processed recalled Chicken of the Sea brand canned tuna produced by Tri-Union Seafoods as well as Hill Country Fare brand chunk light tuna produced by H-E-B.
“These deviations were part of the commercial sterilization process and could result in contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens, which could lead to life-threatening illness if consumed,” the companies said in separate statements.
“During a routine inspection, it was discovered there was a malfunction in a machinery part. That part has been replaced, and the proper functionality of the machine verified,” assured John DeBeer, vice president of Quality and Compliance for Chicken of the Sea.
Tuna Recall: Affected Products
According to the FDA, the recall only affects products sold in the United States (2).
In the case of Bubble Bee products, the recall affects a total of 31,579 cases of cans with a code beginning with a “T”.
Here are the details:
For their part, Tri-Union Seafoods has recalled 2,745 cases of Chicken of the Sea brand canned tuna in oil and in water with the UPC codes of 0 4800000195 5 and 0 4800000245 7. They were produced between February 10, 2016 and March 16, 2016 (3).
Lastly, H-E-B has recalled 224 cases of Hill Country Fare brand chunk light tuna in oil sold in Texas stores between February 24, 2016, and March 16, 2016. They were marked with the UPC code 0 4122065335 5 and the expiry date of 02/09/19 (4).
If you think you may have purchased any of these products, take a look in your pantry, dispose any contaminated products, and contact Bumble Bee at 888-820-1947 and Tri-Union Seafoods at 866-600-2681 for information and reimbursement.
However, if you regularly eat tuna, here are a few things you should know.
Canned Tuna Contains Mercury
Dr. Michael Gochfeld, M.D., Ph.D, insists that the issue of mercury contamination in tuna is complicated because everyone has a different sensitivity to mercury. Weight, height, age, and health also come into play. Plus, tuna may vary in mercury quantity (5).
Mercury is extremely harmful to your nervous system, brain, heart, kidneys, and lungs, so it’s important to limit your exposure as much as possible (6).
Tuna Cans Contains BPA’s
Canned tuna, like most canned foods, are packaged in BPA-lined cans. However, the use of these cans is restricted in Canada and in some U.S. states because of its harmful effects (7).
In a recent study, the Environmental Working Group found that 78 brands out of the 252 tested use BPA-based epoxy lining in their products.
BPA –or bisphenol A- is known to cause reproductive and hormonal problems in both men and women. Worse yet, some BPA-free products contain even more harmful products in the lining (8).
This doesn’t just apply to tuna- all canned products are a potential source of BPA exposure.