Television and film stars Ted Danson and Amber Valletta turned out today to help Oceana honor California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Wild Oats Markets with its 2005 Ted Danson Ocean Hero Award for their leadership in preventing mercury exposure in California and throughout the nation. Oceana renewed its call for supermarkets nationwide to post warning signs wherever fish containing high levels of mercury are sold. The event, organized by Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign, took place outside the Wild Oats Market on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, California.
Actor and Oceana Board Member Ted Danson presented the Ted Danson Ocean Hero Award -- named in Danson’s honor for his dedication to saving the world’s oceans -- to Mr. Lockyer, citing the Attorney General’s leadership in enforcing Proposition 65, a California law that requires supermarkets to provide warnings when their products expose shoppers to harmful contaminants like mercury. Actress and Seafood Campaign spokesperson Amber Valletta presented the award to Wild Oats for being the first national grocery chain to voluntarily post warning signs in all of its stores throughout the United States.
“Attorney General Lockyer has fought tirelessly to ensure that California lives up to the standards set by Proposition 65,” said Danson. “He has taken on all those who have worked to undermine its effectiveness, including supermarket chains, tuna companies and even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. By requiring California’s supermarkets to comply with Prop 65, Mr. Lockyer has put himself on the front lines of this fight to ensure that California families know about the risks associated with mercury in seafood.”
“I appreciate the efforts of Oceana and Wild Oats to provide the public with the facts they need to make informed decisions about their diet,” Lockyer said. “It is my hope that one day we will be able to remove each and every one of these warnings because we have been successful in reversing the effects of contamination in our public waterways and our environment.”
In early June, Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign sent letters to the heads of several major grocery chains, including Safeway, Whole Foods, Costco, Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s and Royal Ahold, owners of Giant and Stop-n-Shop, requesting that they post warning signs in all their stores to help consumers make educated choices when buying seafood.
“Signs in stores are a simple, inexpensive, common-sense solution that offers customers the information they need to protect their families from mercury,” said Amber Valletta, when presenting the Ocean Hero Award to Wild Oats. “Though the solution may be simple, being a leader always takes courage, and we’re here to honor that courage.”
“Wild Oats went national with warning signs because we want all our customers to benefit, not just those in California,” said Sonja Tuitele, Senior Director of Corporate Communications for Wild Oats Markets. “Signs didn’t cause people to stop buying fish, they are simply allowing customers to make informed choices for themselves and their families. Our seafood sales have increased since we began posting the signs and sales of the fish mentioned in the warning signs were not negatively affected. We hope that other retailers will follow Wild Oats’ lead and help educate consumers about this important subject.”
“The work of Wild Oats and Attorney General Lockyer is a great start, and we’re glad they agree that signs in stores are a good idea. Now we need the other companies to get on board,” said Jackie Savitz, Director of Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign.
Oceana’s campaign informs families about Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency warnings regarding the health threats of mercury in tuna, swordfish, tilefish, shark and king mackerel. Oceana is combining its campaign to educate the public about the risks of mercury in seafood with a global effort to reduce mercury levels in the environment. Oceana launched its campaign in January with the release of Poison Plants, a groundbreaking report that exposed six U.S. chlorine manufacturing companies as major sources of mercury pollution.
For more information about Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign, visit www.oceana.org/mercury.