Oceana and Conservationist Ted Danson Announce New 'Green List' and 'Red List' Grading Supermarkets on Mercury Health Warnings | Oceana

Oceana and Conservationist Ted Danson Announce New ‘Green List’ and ‘Red List’ Grading Supermarkets on Mercury Health Warnings

Press Release Date: October 1, 2009

Location: Washington


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

Whole Foods today announced that it is joining Safeway and Wild Oats as the first national supermarket chains to commit to posting signs giving consumers a government warning about mercury in certain kinds seafood.   

The FDA issued an advisory in 2004 warning women of child-bearing age and children to avoid swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark due to the high mercury content of these fish.  The FDA also advised them to limit albacore tuna and tuna steaks to no more than six ounces per week.  The FDA has determined that mercury contamination in these fish is high enough to threaten fetal development and children’s health.  It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of women already have enough mercury in their systems to cause harm to a developing fetus.   

“Many people are still unaware of the danger lurking behind the seafood counter,” explained Jackie Savitz, Director of Oceana’s Campaign to Stop Seafood Contamination, and coordinator of the directory.  “That could change if the major supermarket chains would simply post the FDA’s warning,” said Savitz.  

Over the past year, Oceana and its members contacted major U.S. supermarket chains asking them to voluntarily post the signs.  Savitz congratulated the three supermarket chains that made Oceana’s “Green List” for committing to post signs in stores containing the FDA’s advisory on which seafood contains mercury:  Whole Foods (WFMI); Wild Oats (OATS) and Safeway (SWY), including Vons, Dominick’s and Tom Thumb.  

Savitz pointed out that there is still much more work to be done.  The “Red List” of supermarkets not posting the FDA advisory includes 60 stores.  They are owned by: A&P, Ahold, Albertsons, Delhaize, Costco, Giant Eagle, IGA, Ingles, Kroger, Price Chopper, Publix, Shop Rite, Trader Joe’s, U.S. Supermarkets General Holding Corporation, Wal-Mart, Wegman’s and Winn-Dixie.  

At a press conference today in Manhattan, actor and long-time conservationist Ted Danson spoke passionately about this issue. “I believe that consumers have a right to know what is in the food they buy and feed their families and that is why I am asking supermarkets to voluntarily post the FDA’s warning on mercury contamination in their seafood sections.  It is a simple and inexpensive way to educate the public about a serious health issue,” said Danson.    

Today, in cities across the country, conservation and health advocacy groups held rallies outside local supermarkets as part of a new public education campaign warning customers of mercury contamination in seafood.  As they entered the store, customers discovered whether they were shopping at a store on the “Green List” or alternatively, on the “Red List.”  

“Millions of women nationwide would be better educated about mercury every day if only these “Red List” companies would do a simple thing like post these signs,” urged Savitz.  “We want to remind consumers they deserve better from these stores.  Starting today shoppers should begin to repeatedly tell their store managers to get these signs posted until the companies listen.  This small action could make a huge difference in people’s lives.”