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October 24, 2005

Ocean Heroes for Safe Seafood

You will be pleased to learn that in the past few months thousands of people have jumped in to help Oceana alert the public to the risks of mercury-contaminated seafood. Thank you for your terrific help.

Last week, Oceana honored two leaders whose actions have also helped consumers become smarter and healthier seafood purchasers. California’s Attorney General Bill Lockyer and the national grocery chain Wild Oats Markets were both honored with the 2005 Ted Danson Ocean Hero Award for their leadership in preventing mercury exposure in California and throughout the nation.

By state law, California supermarkets are already required to post signs warning of the threat of mercury in seafood. For years, the state has required warnings on products that contain chemicals like mercury that are known to cause reproductive harm, cancer and other serious health problems.

Attorney General Lockyer has led the enforcement of this law. Oceana Board of Director’s member Ted Danson praised Attorney General Lockyer, saying, “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.”

At Oceana, we have asked why aren’t there signs in grocery stores throughout the rest of the country? We are all equally at risk of ingesting too much mercury in our seafood diets.

Wild Oats asked itself the same question — and did something about it. It is the first national grocery chain to voluntarily post warning signs in all of its stores throughout the United States. Sonja Tuitele from Wild Oats shared that its signs, “are simply allowing customers to make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

The public needs to be better informed about mercury levels in fish. California’s law requiring businesses to post warnings when products can pose harm to one’s health is a step in the right direction – but we need more. All grocery stores nationwide should post these warnings now. If we are all aware of the risks mercury in seafood can pose to our health, then we can make better choices to protect ourselves and our children.

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.

Two weeks ago, we teamed up with Turtle Island Restoration Network and went a step further. We placed a full page ad in the national edition of the New York Times. View the full image on our site.

Wouldn’t it be great if even more people could learn about this?

If you are interested in underwriting the placement of this ad in your local paper, Oceana is willing to manage the project. Send me an email!