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SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- In response to growing consumer concern about mercury in seafood, Micro Analytical Systems, Inc. (MASI) here has developed a new process that, for the first time, allows large-scale mercury testing of seafood.
The company also announced plans to use the new technology to introduce a line of lower mercury-certified seafood in supermarkets under the Safe Harbor label by early 2006.
MASI's Mercury Measurement System now allows seafood processors and retailers to identify the mercury level of every fish they sell. All seafood sold with the Safe Harbor seal will be certified to have a maximum mercury content that's among the lowest available for that species of fish, based on government-supplied averages.
"Seafood is a delicious and important part of a healthy diet, and most nutrition experts recommend that you eat it regularly, but it's been a guessing game up until now when it comes to mercury. Safe Harbor is the only process to test all the fish it certifies," said MASI c.e.o. Malcolm Wittenberg. "We now can give consumers accurate mercury information about each piece of fish they purchase and the tools to use that information."
Safe Harbor certification informs consumers of the maximum mercury level in each piece of fish before they purchase it, with the assurance that the mercury content is among the lowest available for that species. In addition, consumers will be able to go to the Safe Harbor Web site to access an easy-to-use mercury calculator that helps them apply government consumption guidelines to Safe Harbor lower mercury-certified seafood.
"There is a real need in the industry for this type of testing," said John Silva, manager of Lusamerica Foods, a major fish processor based in San Jose, Calif. "Giving the consumer this information will be good for the consumer, the retail and restaurant industries, and the fishing industry, because it will help people purchase seafood with greater confidence. We expect that Safe Harbor certification will encourage people to eat seafood more frequently, because they will have a better understanding of the amount of mercury in each piece of fish they purchase."