Sorry Charlie? American-made tuna claim questioned

Posted by mmcmullan on 10/03/2013

There’s a lot to a name. Don’t we know it: American consumers are big fans of products the bear a Made In America label.

That preference is surely what’s behind tuna canner StarKist’s new red, white, and blue offering: canned StarKist Chunk Light Tuna in Water and StarKist Chunk Light Tuna in Oil Products, prepared and packaged in American Samoa (the U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean), and dressed up in an attractive American-flag motif.

But how American-made is it? As reported by a news service that covers the fishing industry, StarKist has taken some heat for its promotion. So what’s their critics’ beef … or,if you'll indulge me: What do the critics find fishy?

”What’s up with the New StarKist Made in America label,” Jonathan Gonzalez, a US seafood blogger who is seeking a position non one of the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) subpanels, tweeted on Friday.

”Foreign flag vessels, using who knows what gear type, no traceability, canned in Samoa. Hilarious,” replied American Tuna, a US seafood company that fishes and cans Albacore in the North Pacific.

That’s the problem. As long as a U.S.-flagged vessel catches the fish, the government considers them American fish, no matter where they’re caught. And it’s hard to independently verify which flag StarKist’s tuna fishers are flying under out on the high seas. That’s why Gonzalez, the seafood blogger, thinks an investigation into StarKist’s Made In America claim is warranted:

“I do believe the government should find out if Starkist’s Made in America tuna is in fact caught by US flagship vessels,” Gonzalez told Undercurrent. ”Just like I believe the government should make the COOL [Country of Origin Labelling] program mandatory for all canned tuna brands.”

Some food for thought for all you tuna salad lovers out there: Be wary of labels! A Made In America label is one we shouldn’t just throw around.

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