California, as you may know, is just crazy about warning labels. But luckily for consumers, it turns out that even the Golden State isn’t lunatic enough to slap a skull-and-crossbones on health food. And that’s only half the good news that came down from a California appeals court yesterday: Turtle-hugging, pollution-obsessed activists who have been using seafood to push their cottage-industry agendas will need to find a new food to demonize.
Fishing rods, Christmas lights, French fries, you name it — under California’s “Proposition 65 law,” warning labels must accompany practically everything if consumers have a one-in-a-million chance of harming themselves with it. No label? Expect a lawsuit from nervous nanny-state types like former California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and his assorted deputies. This is exactly what happened with omega-3-rich canned tuna.
Since 2003, the state government has been on a mission to let tuna-lovers know that their favorite melts and casseroles contain tiny traces of methylmercury. In 2006, that effort hit a roadblock when a judge ruled that the labeling laws can’t be applied to canned tuna since practically all of the trace mercury is naturally occurring. But the state appealed that ruling.
Yesterday, health-conscious Americans scored a victory when that appeal was thrown out on its activist ear. The justices’ ruling is good news for health-conscious consumers, and a blow to the self-serving green groups who started the mercury-in-fish scare in the first place.
Environmentalists from Oceana, Greenpeace, the Mercury Policy Project, the Environmental Worrying Working Group, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, and the National Resources Defense Council have been telling Americans for years that mercury traces in ocean fish come from toxins released by coal-burning power plants. But as of yesterday morning, that’s officially been disproven.
As a matter of law, traces of mercury in tuna—which have always been there—are as much a part of nature as birds, bees, flowers, and trees. And food-scare green groups are looking about as believable as Jeremy Piven.
Which leaves us with the question: Should you be eating ocean fish? Yes, unless you want to rob yourself of vital nutrients on the basis of an organized lie. Tuna is just as healthy as it’s always been, and the medical literature still contains zero cases of mercury poisoning from eating it.
Of course, the California government’s top legal eagles could appeal yesterday’s smackdown to the state’s Supreme Court. But given the immense budget crisis Californians are facing, it would be a serious waste of taxpayer dollars. Not to mention a backward way of looking at public health.
Meanwhile, we savored this moment today with a round of tuna salad sandwiches. We’ll be sending a case of canned tuna to California Deputy Attorney General Sue Fiering. And the card begins: “Sorry, Charlie!”