In 2005, the California Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Tri-Union Seafoods, also known as Chicken of the Sea, in an effort to require mercury labeling of canned tuna. The lawsuit was unsuccessful, due in part to the federal Food and Drug Administration's declaration of federal preemption. The Attorney General has persisted with their legal efforts to provide consumer's fair notice and uphold the "right to know" laws, and is currently waiting for a date to present their issues before the California Appeals Court.
California may have received added support from New Jersey's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. The three-judge panel recently ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a class action suit against Tri-Union Seafoods, concluding that the FDA has not taken regulatory action to notify the general public, which is necessary to qualify for federal preemption. Fellner's case has been reversed and remanded back to the District court for further proceeding.
Mother Jones recently profiled Fellner's story, among others, who suffered severe detrimental health effects with elevated mercury levels from routine consumption of canned tuna. Each story illustrates a limited knowledge of the mercury contamination that accompanies tuna's widely publicized reputation as an ideal source of lean, high protein. The effects can be devastating and long lasting.