Mercury in Mediterranean Mackerel? No way!

A key element of the almost miraculous Mediterranean diet, there’s strong evidence that eating fish is good for you. Yet, sea contamination and alarming toxins make the topic more and more controversial. Is eating fish really healthy? When you’re having oily fish from the Mediterranean Sea rest assured that you’re in for a nutritional boost. Specifically, Testa Conserve sgombro sott’olio is darn good for you. It’s an excellent source of protein, omega-3s, and healthy fats. Adding to the mix: the benefits of extra virgin olive oil. That’s right, Testa Conserve doesn’t use just any tasteless, neutral, nutritionally worthless oil. They use organic Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a true rarity in the world of preserved fish.

No Mercury in Mediterranean Mackerel

But how about mercury? Since we launched Testa’s Mediterranean sgombro sott’olio, we’ve received some questions about any potential mercury risks in mackerel. The confusion comes from the fish name itself. We pulled out our fish encyclopedia, did a full taxonomy research, and spoke with fisherman Tuccio Testa directly to shed some light on the subject. It turns out there are dozens of kinds of mackerel! In fact, King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and Mediterranean/Atlantic mackerel are all different species. Testa Conserve only uses wild caught Mediterranean mackerel, also known as Atlantic mackerel.

different mackerel species sgombro mercury levels

Mediterranean Mackerel is a Tiny Fish

High levels of mercury are dangerous to human health, especially for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children. So, should you be concerned about mercury loads in Mediterranean/Atlantic mackerel? The short answer is no. These particular fish, scomber scombrus, weigh about 14oz/400g each. Due to their small size and food habits, they don’t accumulate mercury in their systems the same way larger species do. In case you’re wondering about Testa’s Sugarello, those fish are actually smaller than sgombro. They pose an even lesser risk for mercury. Let us make this even more clear: Atlantic/Mediterranean mackerel and sugarello present a quantity of mercury that is so insignificant that this is not even a topic of discussion in the scientific community.

FDA Recommends Eating Mediterranean Mackerel

In addition to size, also location matters. Testa fishes for Atlantic/Mediterranean mackerel and sugarello in completely different waters than those other, larger varieties. King mackerel and Spanish mackerel have their habitats around the Gulf of Mexico, miles away from the Aeolian Islands where the Testa family is fishing. No wonder they accumulate different levels of mercury in their systems. In fact, while the FDA says these larger fish are best avoided all together, they put sgombro and sugarello on their “best choices” list.

Bottom line: you shouldn’t be afraid of eating Testa wild fish preserved in extra virgin olive oil. On the contrary, you should have two to three servings per week. It’s not coming from us, it’s FDA advice!