Oceana, a global ocean conservation group based in Washington, DC, has negotiated with top grocery chains to inform their customers by posting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advice about mercury at seafood counters. Mercury, consumed most frequently via contaminated fish, is a known neurotoxin that can harm brain development, memory and IQ in children and the cardiopulmonary health of adults.

Oceana has argued that fish is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and consumers can enjoy it safely by consuming fish known to be lower in mercury content.

In response to its members’ requests and Oceana’s advocacy efforts, Costco Wholesale has just agreed to post the FDA advice at seafood counters in all its stores nationwide. Costco Wholesale, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, is one of the top-ranked grocers by gross food sales in the United States. Costco joins other major companies, such as Kroger, Safeway and Supervalu, in committing to posting signs. Other Costco competitors, such as Wal-Mart and Publix, have refused to follow suit, depriving their customers of important health information.

Costco’s decision to post the FDA’s mercury advice increases the national percentage of major U.S. grocery stores that inform their consumers about mercury to 36 percent. This means that three of the top four grocery chains are posting the FDA mercury advice at the point of sale. (Wal-Mart is the only one in the top four that refuses to do so.)

Moreover, 95 percent of major grocery stores in Washington state are posting signs, including Safeway, Albertsons and QFC stores, while only two percent or fewer stores in Florida, Iowa and Oklahoma are posting signs, primarily the result of refusals by Publix, Hy-vee and Wal-Mart to do so. You may read more about this growing trend among major grocers in a press release at this Web link:

http://www.oceana.org/fileadmin/oceana/uploads/mercury/Super_Markets/Final_Costco_Release_2008.doc

Oceana will also release a national and state-specific ranking of various grocery chain efforts in its new report Super Markets, which is posted on an advance embargoed basis at this link:

http://www.oceana.org/fileadmin/oceana/uploads/mercury/Super_Markets/Super_Markets.pdf

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