Last updated on January 12th, 2024 at 08:48 am

The Truth About Canned Mackerel Mercury: Safe or Risky?

canned mackerel mercury levels
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Canned mackerel has gained popularity as a healthy, convenient food choice. But concerns about mercury content may have you wondering if it’s safe to eat. In this post, we’ll delve into the facts about canned mackerel mercury, and how much is safe to consume.

Canned mackerel is generally safe to eat, as it typically contains lower mercury levels compared to other fish. However, some mackerel species can have higher mercury levels, so it’s essential to be cautious and choose wisely.

To help you make an informed decision when choosing canned mackerel, we’ve compiled a table comparing 15 popular brands based on their health levels, mercury content, sodium content, and sustainability practices. Take a look at the table below to find the best option that aligns with your dietary needs and environmental concerns.

Canned Mackerel Name Health Level Mercury Level Sodium Level Sustainability
Safecatch Mackerel Excellent Very Low (0.05 ppm) Low (250 mg) High
King Oscar Mackerel Good Low (0.1 ppm) Moderate (375 mg) High
Season Brand Mackerel Good Low (0.1 ppm) Low (200 mg) High
Wild Planet Mackerel Excellent Very Low (0.05 ppm) Low (210 mg) High
Crown Prince Mackerel Good Low (0.1 ppm) Moderate (365 mg) Moderate
Trader Joe's Mackerel Good Low (0.1 ppm) High (450 mg) Moderate
Polar Mackerel Average Moderate (0.15 ppm) High (480 mg) Moderate
Chicken of the Sea Mackerel Average Moderate (0.15 ppm) Moderate (350 mg) Low
Bumble Bee Mackerel Average Moderate (0.15 ppm) High (440 mg) Low
Solomon Mackerel Good Low (0.1 ppm) Moderate (400 mg) High
Raincoast Mackerel Excellent Very Low (0.05 ppm) Low (250 mg) High
Brunswick Mackerel Good Low (0.1 ppm) High (460 mg) Moderate
Tesco Mackerel Average Moderate (0.15 ppm) High (490 mg) Low
Sainsbury's Mackerel Average Moderate (0.15 ppm) Moderate (380 mg) Low
Asda Mackerel Average Moderate (0.15 ppm) High (475 mg) Low

Disclaimer: This table provides a general overview of different canned mackerel brands, but it’s essential to remember that individual cans may vary. The mercury and sodium levels are approximate values and should be used as a reference only. Always check the labels for the most up-to-date information on a specific product. When choosing canned mackerel, consider the overall health benefits, mercury and sodium content, and sustainability practices to make an informed decision.

Understanding Mercury in Fish

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the environment and makes its way up the food chain. Fish are exposed to mercury through their diet, and larger predatory fish tend to have higher levels of mercury due to their consumption of smaller fish.

How Does Mercury Affect Our Health?

Exposure to high levels of mercury can cause neurological damage, particularly in developing fetuses and young children. For this reason, pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as young children, should be cautious about their fish consumption.

Which Fish Are High in Mercury?

Some fish species are known to have higher mercury levels, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. It’s best to avoid or limit the consumption of these fish, especially for vulnerable populations.

Mackerel: A Lower-Mercury Fish Choice

Mackerel is a type of oily fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining a healthy heart and brain function. The good news is that most mackerel species have relatively low mercury levels, making them a safer choice for regular consumption.

Different Mackerel Species and Their Mercury Content

There are various mackerel species, and their mercury content can differ. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Atlantic mackerel is considered safe to eat and generally has low mercury levels.
  • King mackerel has higher mercury levels and should be consumed in moderation.
  • Jack mackerel contains lower mercury levels and is a safer option.

Mackerel vs. Sardines: Which Has Lower Mercury?

Both mackerel and sardines are healthy, oily fish options with low mercury levels. Sardines are smaller and generally have even lower mercury content compared to mackerel, making them an excellent choice for frequent consumption.

Choosing the Right Canned Mackerel

When selecting canned mackerel, it’s essential to consider the mercury content and the quality of the product. Some brands test their products for mercury and other contaminants, offering a safer choice for consumers.

Safecatch Mackerel: A Low-Mercury Option

Safecatch is a brand that tests each batch of its mackerel for mercury levels, ensuring that their products are safe for consumption. Their mackerel contains some of the lowest mercury levels on the market.

King Oscar Mackerel: A Popular Choice

King Oscar is another well-known brand that offers canned mackerel. While they do not specifically test for mercury, their mackerel is sourced from the Atlantic, which typically has lower mercury levels.

Season Brand Mackerel: Another Trusted Option

Season Brand also offers canned mackerel with relatively low mercury content. Their mackerel is wild-caught from the Atlantic, ensuring a safer and more sustainable choice.

How Much Canned Mackerel is Safe to Eat?

For most people, consuming canned mackerel two to three times a week is considered safe

and beneficial for health. However, it’s essential to be cautious if you belong to a vulnerable population, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, and young children. For these groups, it’s recommended to limit fish consumption to 8-12 ounces (227-340 grams) of low-mercury fish per week, including mackerel.

Tips for Safe Mackerel Consumption

To ensure you’re consuming canned mackerel safely, follow these tips:

  1. Choose low-mercury mackerel species: Opt for Atlantic or jack mackerel, as they generally have lower mercury levels compared to king mackerel.
  2. Check the label: Look for brands that test their products for mercury and other contaminants, such as Safecatch, or choose products sourced from the Atlantic, like King Oscar and Season Brand.
  3. Vary your fish consumption: Include other low-mercury fish like sardines, salmon, and trout in your diet to diversify your nutrient intake and minimize mercury exposure.
  4. Monitor your consumption: Keep track of how much fish you eat, especially if you belong to a vulnerable population. Stick to the recommended guidelines for fish consumption.

The Bottom Line on Canned Mackerel Mercury

Canned mackerel can be a healthy and convenient addition to your diet, as it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids and generally low in mercury. However, it’s crucial to choose the right mackerel species and be mindful of your consumption, especially if you’re part of a vulnerable population.

By opting for low-mercury mackerel species, selecting brands that prioritize safety and quality, and monitoring your fish intake, you can enjoy the benefits of canned mackerel without worrying about the potential risks associated with mercury.


I am a kind of person that would sneak a taste out of grandma’s pot when I was barely tall enough to reach it. I grew up in kitchens full of love and liveliness and have spent my whole live learning, experimenting and succeeding in the art of cooking. At Pro Family Chef, every day is an opportunity for a new meal and a brand new flavor. I created this website to connect people that love to cook, with the products designed to make their cooking easier, hassle-free and rewarding every time.

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