'Sushi Capital' Japan Isn't Sweating Tuna Scare

Sushi capital continues to eat up
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 27, 2008 5:35 AM CST
A toddler is carried by a shopper looking at a head of tuna in front of a fishmonger in Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. Recent reports in the United States about high levels of mercury...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – New Yorkers may be in the throes of a sushi scare after the Times reported on the dangerous mercury levels in tuna, but the Japanese aren't batting an eyelid. One official's biggest concern was that the controversy would ignite "groundless rumors" about a healthy food, AP reports. "We're not talking about eating 10 tuna sushi every day—in which case I might be a little worried," said one sushi lover.

Japan doesn't allow mercury concentrations above 0.4 parts per million in most seafood, following an industrial mercury poisoning incident in the 1950s that led to serious birth defects. But the limit doesn't apply to tuna because it's fished far offshore. Scientists are concerned, but the Japanese continue to consume 450,000 tons of sushi a year.