Since we launched Testa’s Mediterranean sgombro sott’olio, we’ve received some questions about any potential mercury risks. We’re glad you asked! We spoke with Tuccio Testa directly to hear his expertise on the subject. 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 levels in Mediterranean mackerel? The short answer is no.
The Fish Itself
Keep in mind there are dozens of kinds of mackerel! In fact, King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and Mediterranean mackerel are all different species. Testa Conserve preserves wild caught Mediterranean mackerel in extra virgin olive oil, also known as Atlantic mackerel. 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, such as King mackerel and swordfish. In case you’re wondering about sugarello, those fish are actually smaller than Mediterranean sgombro. They pose an even lesser risk for mercury.
In 2022, the European Union set a limit of 0.3 milligrams of mercury per kilogram of mackerel (EU Reg 617/2022). This law further reduced the previous limit of 0.5mg/kg established in 2006. Testa Conserve’s sgombro sott’olio have never exceeded 0.3mg/kg. To do so would be against Italian and European law.
So what about US regulations? Things in the United States are a bit different. The EPA’s “action level” for mercury in all kinds of fish is 1 mg/kg. This means fish exceeding this amount could be removed from market. Testa’s sgombro sott’olio has never come anywhere near this limit.
As part of a healthy diet, the FDA recommends two to three serving of fish per week from its “best choices” list. Atlantic (aka Mediterranean) mackerel is in this top category. Overall, you can rest assured Testa Conserve sgombro sott’olio is good for you. It’s an excellent source of protein, omega-3s, and other nutrients. 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.