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April 16, 2008 5:00 PM

Testing one, two, three: Mercury, not rising

Posted by Nancy Leson

Word just in from the fine folks at Haggen supermarkets, via a press-release dated today. They're crowing about becoming the first supermarkets in the Pacific Northwest to offer Safe Harbor mercury-tested and certified seafood, introducing Safe Harbor-certified seafood at all 33 supermarkets under the Haggen umbrella -- which includes TOP Food & Drug, Haggen Food & Pharmacy and Larry's Market.

What's the big deal? Well, In their words:

Seafood sold with the Safe Harbor seal is certified to have a mercury level that is among the lowest available for each species. All Safe Harbor-certified seafood meets a stricter standard than what has been set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). No other supermarkets in Washington and Oregon offer the Safe Harbor certification.

"Seafood is an important part of a healthy diet since it provides a lean source of protein and is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids," said Russ Casteel, seafood buyer for TOP Food and Haggen stores. "For any customers concerned about current government standards, Safe Harbor-certified seafood goes the extra step with testing that assures them of low-mercury content."

As someone who regularly shops at TOP Food in Edmonds, and having recently discussed mercury content in seafood in my column here and here, I have this to say about that: Great news about the testing. Now, Attention Russ Casteel! Can you do something about your Edmonds seafood counter? I love my neighborhood TOP Food store, where I've been shopping for over a decade. It has a terrific produce section, a decent deli counter, a fine Mexican foods aisle and some of the best house-baked Bavarian rye bread around. But I never buy seafood there because the pickings are slim and what's sitting on ice looks way too tired to my eyes. Anyone else agree with me?

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Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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