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Whale And Dolphin Meat Exceeds Safe Mercury Levels

Recent sample tests found mercury levels in whale and dolphin meat to be up 47 times higher than the recommended safe level

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) tested 13 products purchased from Yahoo! Japan, the major online retailer selling whale and dolphin meat and an additonal seven products from Japanese supermarkets.

Every product exceeded the Japanese government's recommeneded safe level for mercury of 0.4 parts per million (ppm), with some products showing a contamination that was 47 times higher.

Some of the products obtained from supermarkets were identified as deriving from the notorious Taiji drive hunts which are subject of the award-winning documentary The Cove.  

Releasing the results on Wednesday, EIA Oceans Campaign head Clare Perry said: 'Time and again, our analysis of cetacean products on sale in Japan has shown them to be riddled with mercury and other pollutants which pose serious threats to human health.

'By continuing to allow Japanese consumers to buy and eat these toxic products in ignorance of the very real risks they pose, the Government and Yahoo! Japan are utterly failing in their duty of care.

'EIA calls on both – and on all retailers of whale and dolphin products in Japan – to stop gambling with consumers’ health and to take swift and decisive action to remove them from the market.'

Among the products from Yahoo! Japan tested by EIA were pilot whale rib cut (18ppm), Baird’s beaked whale jerky (3.7ppm) and stew (7.2ppm), pilot whale spare ribs (13ppm) and roasted whale (10ppm). Products obtained from supermarket included dolphin meat (11ppm), dolphin stomach meat (2.8ppm) and whale intestines (10ppm).

Nearly half of the tested producted were not labelled with the name of the cetacean species, violation Japan’s labelling laws, the EIA states. 

Studies of populations that consume cetacean meat and blubber have shown that mercury and other contaminants adversely affect foetal development, including infant immune function, neural development and memory, as well as increasing the risk of developing Parkinson’s, hypertension and arteriosclerosis in adults.

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