Important Disclaimer: Although there are organizations like the MSC (marine stewardship council) that suggest certain seafood choices are sustainable with an abundant supply, I don’t believe ANY seafood or meat can be completely sustainable, because there are just too many people eating it! Restraint is always needed; US tuna should not be taken for granted and shouldn’t be over-consumed even though it’s a much healthier choice than imported tuna.
Americans consume approximately 3 lbs of tuna per year. Canned tuna is a billion dollar business, but it remains a confusing food for consumers to purchase.
Most tuna from large commercial brands contain mercury, plus the way these companies catch tuna is deplorable! For skipjack and yellowfin, they use a large net to catch massive amounts of tuna. For albacore tuna, the most used method is a longline. Problem is, other fish like shark, dolphins, & rays plus sea animals like turtles can also be caught using both these methods, and because the fishermen only want tuna, the unwanted fish are thrown (dead or wounded) back into the ocean.
Sustainability conscience companies use the troll and/or poll & line methods. The first method, trolling is a useful way to ensure that younger smaller tuna fish are caught, which are much lower in mercury.
There are only a handful of companies that offer tuna caught in the US. I like the idea of eating US caught tuna. I cringe when I read the label on the can and see “product of Indonesia” or Thailand, or China. Even companies like 365 from Whole Foods don’t offer tuna from the US. I assume the main reason is the expense. Consumers don’t want to pay a premium for premium products!
A can of tuna from Starkist or Chicken of the Sea is under $2 (sometimes under $1), but a can of higher quality USA tuna is $4-$5. Yeah, that’s a big difference! Americans have become so used to cheap food, but they don’t bother to think about the reason as to WHY it’s so cheap. The old saying “You get what you pay for” should apply to our food as well!
Buying American caught tuna is supporting the US, and you’re getting a much higher quality product (lower in mercury, higher in Omega 3 fatty acids). The quality of the tuna can’t be compared. The texture and taste is similar to eating freshly cooked tuna. It does require a little time to get used to the taste of higher quality tuna, as our nation’s taste buds are dulled by the taste (or lack there of) of main-stream commercial brands of canned tuna. But once you learn to appreciate it, it’s so much better. I think it’s worth the extra money.
Another positive aspect of purchasing a higher quality canned tuna is that it’s packed in the tuna’s natural juices, not in water or oil; there is no need to drain the can first. So, what you are paying for is TUNA, not canning liquid like the more popular brands; canning in natural juices also allow for a higher amount of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids to be retained.
Recommended Tuna Brands
I really enjoy two brands of US tuna:
Wild Planet (See my update below) and American Tuna
Wild Planet Albacore & Skipjack Canned Tuna
UPDATE 2014-12-1: Wild Planet is no longer USA-caught!
Update: I was about to order a 12-pack of Wild Planet skipjack tuna from Amazon, and after checking the description and label photos, there was no info on “USA-caught” so I checked the Wild Planet’s product info web page and again, nothing. Only after looking at their FAQ page, I realized that their tuna is no longer USA-caught. HOW AWFUL! And to make things worse, the label no longer states “High Omega/Low Mercury”. What a disappointment! I wish I noticed sooner, but thankfully we only eat tuna occasionally. Lesson learned, no matter how good a product is one day, the quality can quickly change.
Wild Planet offers both skipjack and albacore canned tuna, and both are very tasty, although I think the albacore is a little milder than the skipjack.
Albacore Tuna: 5 oz can equals 1 oz natural juices + approximately 4 oz solid albacore tuna.
Skipjack Tuna: 5 oz can equals 1 oz natural juices + approximately 4 oz solid skipjack tuna.
I love that they offer Albacore with no salt added and most importantly, their cans are
BPA free not BPA-free any longer.
UPDATE: (2012-06-21) I noticed a couple of months ago, that their lining looked different, and there was no notification on the can about BPA, so I phoned their customer service. Sorry to say that Wild Planet did further testing on their cans, and they found that it is not BPA free anymore. She did say that they are working on finding an alternative, and that the BPA level was lower than other canned tuna.
(update: no longer caught in US) I am a little disappointed to realize that although their tuna is
caught in the US, it’s packed in Vietnam. From their web site:
Unfortunately, there is no US sardine or tuna cannery capable of processing our volume requirements and the last sardine factory in the United States closed in 2010.
On the question of the carbon load of overseas production:
We have studied this issue carefully, and are pleased to report that one of the lowest carbon-load forms of transportation on the planet is ocean freight. The carbon load of 26 tons of frozen tuna going from Seattle to Vietnam is miniscule and the finished cans returning are even less. Since there are no US canneries capable of processing these fisheries’ fish, we are using the most efficient means to utilize them for domestic consumption. It is interesting that prior to our company expanding its sales of these fish, these very same pounds were being exported and not returned for domestic use.
The carbon load of these fish is much lower than the “local” Alaskan halibut and salmon flown to lower 48 states. It is also lower than seafood trucked from West to East Coast or East to West Coast. It is really not total miles traveled but the kind of miles that constitute carbon load. This is one of the reasons why studies have shown that ocean freighted New Zealand lamb has less carbon load when sold in London than Scottish lamb. Distance by ocean is a minor factor compared to energy inputs from feed production.
Their explanations make sense, and although I am not happy that they have to use overseas canning facilities, and yes, I wish that there were more appropriate US canning factories, but their tuna is quite good, and I don’t feel too guilty purchasing it. I also have purchased their canned shrimp, which is very tasty in fresh salads.
Check out their web site, it is very informative, especially their Fishing Methods page, with detailed info and illustrations on good and bad fishing methods.
American Tuna Company – Albacore Canned Tuna
American Tuna is a small company founded by six fishing families from San Diego, CA. These families represent generations of fishing for albacore with the “pole & line” method.
From their web site:
We are the first and only tuna fishery to be certified by MSC. Now our story is being told around the world and consumers can ask for pole & troll caught albacore. Every can/package/loin of albacore displaying the MSC eco-label can be traced back to the vessel that harvested it. American Tuna only supports fisherman using the Pole & Troll method and only processes albacore caught by AAFA vessels. This ensures our traceability and chain of custody will stay in tact, and gives our customers the ability to know exactly where there tuna came from, to know that the tuna they are eating are Small and Mercury Safe, and to know that the ocean is being protected.
They offer low salt and no salt varieties of tuna, and of course, their cans are BPA-free! They are 100% American; the fish are caught in California and canned in Oregon!
As you can see, their albacore tuna is a lovely white, very solid, and it makes a yummy sandwich! Each 6 oz can equals 1 oz natural juices + approximately 5 oz solid albacore tuna.
Other Web Sources
Although there are organizations like the MSC (marine stewardship council) that suggest certain seafood choices are sustainable with an abundant supply, I don’t believe ANY seafood or meat can be completely sustainable, because there are just too many people eating it! Restraint is always needed; US tuna should not be taken for granted and shouldn’t be over-consumed even though it’s a much healthier choice than imported tuna.
22 thoughts on “Canned Tuna Reviews: American Tuna & Wild Planet”
WIld Planet sardines are BPA-free, but their tuna cans are not
Yes, thank you, Wade. I knew about this a few months ago, I just never updated. Thanks for the reminder. When I spoke to them on the phone, they did say that the level of BPA was lower than other canned tuna, but still….
I was disappointed to find out that Whole Foods 365 brand of tunas, as well as Sustainable Seas and Wild Planet are processed in Viet Nam. It says so right on the can. And Whole Foods sells these as if they are the creme de la creme. So I started reading labels more carefully after learning that Pacific Albacore from the U.S. actually has less Mercury. I wouldn’t trust anything that is processed in Viet Nam. It makes no sense to ship fresh fish overseas for it to be packed from the consumer standpoint. So I started purchasing American Tuna, after reading the label at Whole Foods. I paid $5.69 per can, but food is the one thing I don’t scrounge on. Paying more for higher quality food saves later on medical bills.
Re: the BPA in cans for Wild Planet. It might not be completely their fault. Seventh Generation is having problems of traces of BPA in their toilet paper (yes toilet paper!) because it is made from recycled paper and guess what – the receipts you get at the store are loaded with BPA, and those end up in the recycling bin. I wonder if they face something similar with aluminum.
On another note, I always find it depressing when I go to a supermarket and I cannot find any MSC certified canned/frozen/fresh seafood. I thought more and more products had the label.. where are they?
Wow Veronica, how interesting. It makes so much sense about the recycled paper products having BPA. It’s scary! Thank you for this bit of info
As for certified fish, I don’t know how many commercial big food companies are on board with the whole “sustainable” movement, it’s too profitable to sell cheap imported fish products unfortunately.
I know whole foods sells wild planet and American tuna and they have a decent frozen fish selection. And amazon sells a 6pk of wikd planet with subscribe and save that is a very good price.
It says on the can that the can is certified BPA free.
Now what exactly does that mean?
Barbara which tuna brand are you talking about? I checked on the wild planet cans I have in my pantry and that claim is not on the label
I do think that American Tuna might still be BPA free. So if its on the label I would assume its BPA free. But you never know since it seems to be infiltrated into our food containers in ways they can’t control.
For example, I know that if the processing plant cans other products with BPA linings, then the machines are contaminated so a little bit will carry over to subsequent products.
Barbara replied to me by email but I wanted to post here so others will see
She has the “Wild planet Wild albacore tuna no salt 5oz. — Use by date 9/2014”
I don’t have the unsalted flavor here but I hope my next delivery from amazon will have that claim back on the label.
What is an American Tuna? So when the Albacore are in Japan during their migration or the far western Pacific are they Japanese Tuna if they are caught there? Polynesian if they are caught there? I believe we are all victims of the marketing department at these tuna companies calling tuna “American”
Kevin, American Tuna refers to the company. Nobody is calling the tuna American.
Disappointed to learn that Wild Planet tuna is no longer USA-caught. To make matters worse, the label no longer states “high omega/low mercury” – Wild Planet tuna in my opinion, is no better than any other supermarket brand. Ugh!
My blog post has been updated.
Just wanted to post a follow-up comment.
I was at Whole Foods today, and noticed a can of a new brand of tuna.
“Pole & Line” – 5 oz albacore for $2.79 and specifically, it’s Pacific US caught. So, I bought a can to try.
We haven’t taste-tested the tuna yet, but I googled the name, and lo & behold, the “Pole & Line” brand is a Whole Foods exclusive, in partnership with American Tuna Co.
Unfortunately, the tuna is canned in Thailand, but this is only a slight negative, compared to the positivity of a reasonably-priced US-caught LOW MERCURY tuna.
If you are looking for USA caught tuna check out our Sea Fare Pacific brand packaged right here in Coos Bay, Oregon at Oregon Seafoods, LLC. Our Albacore tuna is 100% troll caught and traceable back to the family-owned boats in California, Oregon and Washington where it was harvested. Our tuna is hand filleted & cooked just once to preserve the healthy nutrients. There are no fillers or water added. Our tuna is caught, produced, and packaged in the United States in a BPA-free liner and is Non-GMO, as well as gluten free. Our pouches are available in stores across the USA including Target, Vitamin Cottage, Whole Food Markets, Kroeger, Market of Choice, and many others. You can also purchase Sea Fare Pacific on Amazon.
I only buy American Tuna because it is the only brand wild caught and packed in USA!! And tastes awesome.
Well, I looked and looked for Tuna and Salmon canned in the U.S.A. as I hear our canning factories are very clean as opposed to those in China and Thailand. None found. They are canned other than the U.S. of A. but distributed in the U.S. by so-and-so company! I guess I will quit eating canned tuna and salmon altogether!
This is 2016, I would say an update is in order good news and possibly bad. Wild Planet is processed in Vietnam but it’s non-gmo no BPA lined and they use smaller albacore which have less mercury on Wild Planet Light Tuna, no added water only natural juices. Says it is caught by Coastal New Zealand and North Pacific.
Thanks for the article, it was very informative. I agree with J an update would be appreciated.
Wild Planet in their FAQ section states the tuna caught with poll and troll are young and small and therefore contain less mercury even though they are caught off Japan and in the South Pacific. In addition, I recently discovered that even cans labelled BPA free may not be much less toxic. Crown Prince wild caught yellow fin states BPA free, but apparently their cans are lined instead with vinyl, which may not be much better. I am considering trying Wild Planet Albacore in Jars. At least glass is non-toxic.
Oregon Seafoods produces wild Oregon albacore in pouches and cans, marketed under their brand SeaFarePacific out of Coos Bay, Oregon. Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston, Oregon also ships cans. Both of these canneries purchase their albacore from West Coast fisherman.
Another source is to go to the Western Fishboat Owner’s Association website, where links to fisherman who have their product canned in the USA and will ship directly to you, can be found.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – I’ve been buying wild albacore tuna with salt for about a year and noticed that they just came out with new labels. The omega 3 content stated on the new labels (1,500mg per can), though still very high, is less than half what it was stated on the old labels (3,350mg per can). Do you think they changed sources?
Posting this 5-4-2018. I live in North Carolina and just purchased a can of Skipjack tuna from Aldi for 99 cents, it does have the MSC label on it, however it says it is a product of Thailand. If I had not been in such a hurry I wouldn’t have bought it. I am really hooked on Wild Planet now but I thought I would give this a try. My can of Wild Planet does not say BPA free, it says caught in New Zealand! I am rethinking all of this now!
there is only one thing to do. Catch,grow and hunt your food or suffer the consequenses.We have become a lazy civileazation dependent on others to feed us. Truth does not exist.We have passed the point of no return .
Thanks for this article, I started researching tuna this last month since we started eating it. I think it’s very difficult for fisheries or any companies to do business in the USA.
I’m okay with supporting other brothers and sisters across the ocean, if there’s no fisheries here. There are less businesses in the USA-and many are filled with cronyism. They get more regulations passed by buddies in congresses, so they don’t have to compete against any new companies. Folks that want more USA based businesses will need to rethink voting for old political parties at the Federal Levels, bare minimum. Get brave and vote independent, libertarian, etc at the state level. Did you know there are at least three political parties recognized in the states? Libertarian party, Green, Constitution, etc. Promises from old party candidates are just lies, check online at ballotpedia, the real voting records- there’s so much corruption.