Smart Woman: Should Pregnant Women Avoid Tuna?

By Brittany Pelletz |

Published 08/21 2014 03:31PM

Updated 10/16 2014 08:54PM

Susan Schneider changed her diet and started eating healthier when she got pregnant.

"It's really hard, and I gave up caffeine and I used to drink five cups a day," Schneider said.

She also tries to eat fish when she can, "fish is good for the baby," Schneider said.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends pregnant women eat up to 12 ounces of fish per week which can include some small amounts of canned tuna. However, Consumer Reports did its own analysis and they're telling pregnant women to avoid tuna completely.

According to Jean Halloran, Director of Food & Product Safety for Consumer Reports, "tuna can have some very high mercury levels including canned tuna."

Consumer Reports say the problem is that mercury levels in canned tuna can vary, so you don't know what your getting. While most canned tuna is safe, the FDA's own research found 20% of cans tested had high levels of mercury.

Nonetheless, the FDA is holding by its recommendations and released the following statement, "The Consumer Reports analysis is limited in that it focuses exclusively on the mercury levels in fish without considering the known positive nutritional benefits attributed to fish."

Consumer Reports says there are plenty of fish besides tuna that are better options for pregnant women.

"Choose low mercury fish," Halloran said.

Low mercury fish include wild salmon, shrimp, sardines, tilapia and scallops. The group believes these fish can give pregnant women the health benefits without the risk.

Additionally, health experts say chunk light canned tuna has less mercury than albacore canned tuna.

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