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Tuna Industry Should Communicate Health Benefits Better Spain, September 13, 13

Tuna faces tough competition in a market where knowing the health benefits of food has become important for consumers. The Vigo Tuna Conference in Spain this week staged a presentation highlighting the importance of marketing the positive impacts that tuna can have on a person’s health.
Icíar Martínez, a food safety specialist and professor emphasized the importance of backing up tuna health benefits with scientific evidence. She stated that while some tuna products have not been allowed to include health claims on their labels, others are eliminating these details. She stressed that this was due to tuna producers not being able to scientifically document their claims.

Icíar Martínez, Food Safety Specialist, CSIC

Martínez said: “in fact, there have been more scientific papers written on the benefits of eating garlic than on tuna.”
Her presentation outlined the necessity for tuna products to be labeled with the amount of selenium they contain, an element that counteracts mercury in the product. Often tuna receives bad press about mercury levels, but selenium content is commonly ignored.
In a separate presentation made by Aniceto Charro Salgado, head of endocrinology and nutrition at Hospital Clinico, Omega 3 content in tuna was referred to as vital to brain development, and he linked this to the evolution from prehistoric man.

Martínez concluded that the food industry is an extremely competitive market. Tuna faces competition as a protein from eggs, chicken, pork, beef, milk and dairy; and as a health food, from seafood, oils, nuts, vegetables and the pharmaceutical industry. She stressed that the tuna industry needs to finance research to document the safety and health benefits of its products.
The presentation outlined the upcoming plans for her group, the Research Centre for Experimental Marine Biology and Biotechnology located in Bilbao, to successfully market the positive impacts tuna can have on health. The proposed work included: investigating the mechanisms of synthesis and action of selenium; strengthening collaborations with Japan and the US; developing methods on board fishing vessels to separate healthy and contaminated fish; and investigating the potential beneficial effects of selenium on Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes type-2 and aging.