The billion-dollar tuna industry’s U.S. Tuna Foundation trade group will roll out a new PR campaign next year downplaying FDA and EPA warnings about mercury in tuna. In an effort to boost consumption, The Foundation will stress the fact that tuna has Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for child development.
Like many such organizations set up by PR agencies, The Foundation is a foundation in name only. It formulates the industry’s public response for its main harvesters and marketers like Starkist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea.
The Washington Post reports that the FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to warn children and women of childbearing age about elevated levels of harmful mercury in seafood, and specifically tuna.
Aker Partners, the Tuna Foundation’s outside PR counsel, advises the group on the mercury issue, according to the O’Dwyer PR Website. “Mercury affects all seafood,” said Colburn Aker, managing partner of the Washington, D.C.-based firm. “The tuna industry has been responsible with the issue and will continue to be.”
Fleishman-Hillard works on behalf of Bumble Bee and referred calls on the issue to the Foundation. Citigate Sard Verbinnen handles media relations for Starkist’s parent, DelMonte Corp.
Aker said the industry will likely roll out an education campaign and efforts to boost consumption early next year. Tuna is second behind shrimp in top seafood sales in the U.S. Over two billion cans of tuna were sold last year.