Last week, food giant Del Monte
Mercury (really methylmercury) is a neurotoxin that affects the development of the brain and nervous system. The FDA has warned for years that mercury is found in high concentrations in shark, king mackerel, and tilefish -- and, now, tuna. Some tuna is more contaminated than others: Albacore (white meat tuna) has nearly three times the mercury of light meat tuna.
Del Monte expected sales in 2004 to grow 2% to 4%, and earnings to grow 6% to 9%. As Carla Pasternak noted last week, "Star-Kist tuna's U.S. market share had already dropped 9% in the five years before Del Monte took over the brand. If Heinz and all its financial muscle couldn't turn around these brands, it takes a giant leap of faith to believe that a company like Del Monte will."
Now, with the EPA and FDA on the scene, "Sorry, Charlie" may take on a whole new meaning.
What comes of the FDA/EPA advisory is not clear. If consumers switch to arguably healthier meats, like chicken, Tyson Foods
On thing's for certain, this mercury scare has tuna sellers hot under the collar.
Besides being a tuna lover and feeding 9Lives tuna to his cats, W.D. Crotty used to work for Star-Kist. You can e-mail W.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.