News Watch

HAGGEN TO CERTIFY LOW MERCURY CONTENT IN SEAFOOD BELLINGHAM, Wash. Haggen food stores, the 33-unit retailer based here, has announced that it will test and certify all of its finned seafood for low mercury content. It is a marketing tool, but more importantly it's the right thing to do, Russ Casteel, seafood buyer for TOP Food and Haggen stores told the Bellingham Herald recently. We can say with

HAGGEN TO CERTIFY LOW MERCURY CONTENT IN SEAFOOD

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Haggen food stores, the 33-unit retailer based here, has announced that it will test and certify all of its finned seafood for low mercury content. “It is a marketing tool, but more importantly it's the right thing to do,” Russ Casteel, seafood buyer for TOP Food and Haggen stores told the Bellingham Herald recently. “We can say with confidence what the mercury levels are, and that can help guide consumers to specific seafood based on their level of concern.” Concerns about the mercury content in seafood — particularly tuna and swordfish — have surfaced repeatedly in recent years. The most recent spike was led by a January New York Times story, which reported that sushi purchased from five of 20 New York City restaurants sampled for their report “had mercury levels so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market.” Several retailers — including Bristol Farms, Carson, Calif., and Gourmet Garage, New York — have launched similar low mercury certification programs, using equipment developed by Micro Analytical Systems, San Rafael, Calif.

OHIO TO REQUIRE DISCLAIMER ON RBST-FREE LABELS

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Milk advertised as coming from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormones rBST and rBGH will be required to display a prominent disclaimer on their labels, stating directly beneath any “free of artificial hormones” claim that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says there is no significant difference between milk produced by cows that are treated with the hormone and cows that are not. The decision came after weeks of debate. Biotech giant Monsanto, which produces and markets the artificial hormones, along with a few large dairy operations, had argued that these artificial hormone-free claims unfairly disparaged their products. Other parties, including Kroger in Cincinnati — which discontinued the use of rBST and rBGH in its dairies, and ordered its suppliers to do the same, citing shopper concerns — said that the new regulations weren't serving a consumer interest, and would require expensive changes to their labels.