Safeway Steps Up Efforts to Prevent Mercury Exposure
Press Release Date: October 1, 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Oceana congratulated Safeway today on the supermarket chain’s commitment to post mercury advisory signs nationally at its stores’ seafood counters. Oceana’s Stop Seafood Contamination Campaign, launched in January 2005, has called on Safeway and all other major supermarket chains to post signs based on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2004 advisory for mercury in seafood.
Oceana learned of Safeway’s commitment when it received a copy of the corporate communication sent to stores mandating that they post warning signs.
“Shoppers in Safeway stores, and the other chains Safeway owns such as Dominicks, will now get the information they need to make healthy choices for their families,” said Andrew Sharpless, Oceana’s Chief Executive Officer. “Fish should be an important part of the diet, both now and in the future. Safeway’s leadership in posting signs in its stores is the first step in solving the problem, and will go a long way toward protecting public health.”
In 2004, the FDA advised women of child-bearing age and children to avoid swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark. 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 species is high enough to threaten fetal development and children’s health.
According to Jackie Savitz, Director of Oceana’s Campaign to Stop Seafood Contamination, most people are unaware of the FDA advice: “Two of every three people don’t know which fish contain dangerous levels of mercury, but consumers have a right to know. We are glad Safeway stepped up to the plate, and we hope the other grocery store chains will follow.”
In June, 2005, Oceana 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 mercury advisory signs in all their stores to help consumers make educated choices when buying seafood. Last August, Oceana coordinated an event in which more than 2000 of its members signed up to ask their local grocers to post signs wherever fish subject to the FDA advisory are sold. Safeway is the second major supermarket chain to commit to posting signs nationally, Wild Oats Markets being the first. In June, Oceana will produce and release a “Grocery Green List” to help direct shoppers to the stores that post this important information.
Oceana’s campaign to educate the public about the risk of mercury in seafood is part of a global effort that includes reducing mercury levels in the environment by getting the nation’s few remaining chlorine production plants that still use outdated mercury technology to go mercury-free.
For more information about Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign, visit www.oceana.org/mercury.