canned tuna

When it comes to eating and cooking sustainably, canned fish is a toughie. Not only are there all sorts of problems when it comes to any sort of sustainable fish, canned or not, but when it comes to canning, we also have BPA to worry about. BPA stands for bisphenol A; most of us have already heard of it and avoid microwaving plastic, re-using plastic water bottles and using plastic containers to store leftovers to keep ourselves and our families out of harm’s way. BPA can also be found in the majority of canned products, which begs the question… is it possible for canned fish to be sustainable and good for you?

BPA-Free Cans

Some companies have made the transition to BPA-free can liners; the good news is that many of them are sustainable seafood producers. Vital Choice offers salmon, albacore tuna, sardines and mackerel in BPA-free cans, although the lids still seem to contain trace amounts of BPA, and are therefore not labeled BPA-free.

Oregon’s Choice offers albacore in BPA-free cans and will soon make the transition to all BPA-free cans. What’s the hold-up? BPA has traditionally been used to help keep acidic foods like tomatoes from eroding the cans. As Oregon’s Choice’s shrimp and crab contains lemon juice, they’re waiting for developments in the industry to make the transition possible.

Eco Fish offers quite a variety of sustainable seafood, both canned and frozen. It currently offers BPA-free albacore and is looking for a source for its BPA-free salmon.

Wild Planet not only offers BPA-free packaging for its skipjack tuna and albacore, but it also chooses smaller fish to make its products mercury free.

What’s Inside?

Don’t just focus on the can when buying canned fish and seafood. What’s inside matters just as much!

When choosing canned tuna, make sure that it as pole-caught and small in size: the best would be pole-caught skipjack tuna, offered by Wild Planet, for example, followed by pole-caught albacore. When you’ve checked both the can and the contents, you’re good to go!

Use your new favorite brand in one of our favorite canned fish recipes:

Image: The Giant Vermin