Early in the fall, Reno resident Judee Wedge took the day and visited 28 different supermarkets in Northern Nevada.
Wedge was asked by GotMercury.org to collect one quarter pound of swordfish and ahi-tuna/yellow fin if available at the fresh fish counter at each location.
“Packaged it, put in right into the cooler, went to the house, stuck it into the sample box, put it in the freezer, collected all my samples and sent it the lab. It was very very simple,” says Wedge.
The idea was to see how much mercury was contained in the samples collected throughout the Reno, Sparks, and Carson City area.
GotMercury.org reports about 25% contained mercury levels deemed unsafe by the Food and Drug Administration. That means they exceed one part per million.
“A woman who weighed 140 pounds ate a 6 ounce, an average size of swordfish, and it contained mercury levels that were about 1parts per million, which was the average of swordfish we found in Northern Nevada, her mercury level would soar 450 percent over federal guidelines. That's exceptionally dangerous,” says Buffy Martin-Tarbox from GotMercury.org
On the higher end of the study, a swordfish sample taken at the Smith's in Carson City was nearly 200 percent over the FDA action level.
A tuna sample taken from the Scolari's on Disc Drive in Sparks exceeded the one part per million--the average mercury level of sample tuna was .337-parts per million.
Many stores responded to our calls for comments on GotMercury.org's study
Whole Foods told us:
"They do more than any other grocer to bring awareness to mercury in seafood," The company says, "While they go to great lengths to offer the highest quality seafood, mercury is a naturally occurring environmental reality, everyone who eats seafood, should be aware."
Trader Joe's Told Us:
"Our stores post warning signs about the traces of mercury in seafood where the applicable products are merchandised."
"Smith's purchases seafood from reputable suppliers and we promote the FDA guidelines.... regarding mercury consumption by placing brochures on our seafood counters which list the low-risk choices our customers may select ."