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HEALTH

French warned over heavy metals in canned tuna

In a report set to be published in May, the magazine 60 Millions Consumers has warned the public about the dangers of eating certain canned tuna. Find out which.

French warned over heavy metals in canned tuna
Photo: Iwan Gabovitch/Flickr
Leading consumer group 60 Millions de Consumateurs has come out with another worrying report, just weeks after over 100 supermarket items and household products were blacklisted for their dangerous contents. 
 
The group studied 15 popular brands of tuna including Petit Navire, Saupiquet, and Connétable, as well as those from retailers like Carrefour, Auchan, Leader Price, and Casino.
 
It found that while none of the tuna cans contained Bisphenol A (also known as BPA – a compound used to make plastic), there were plenty of other worrying things inside France's tuna cans. 
 
For example, all the brands tested contained the metals mercury, arsenic and cadmium – but all to different degrees.
 
The report suggested that if you're still going to be angling for tuna no matter the contents, your best bet is Leader Price, due to having the lowest metal levels overall.
 
Three tuna brands were singled out containing more than the regulatory amount of mercury, which is 1 mg per kg. These were Petit Navire, Capitaine Nat' and Odyssée (from Intermarché).
 
When it came to arsenic levels, Capitaine Nat' clocked up 1.7mg per kg, a rate nearly six times as high as that from Carrefour's home brand. 
 
But, unless you're pregnant, you shouldn't be overly concerned, said health expert Dr Alain Ducardonnet.
 
“Sure, there are traces of mercury in fish, but only in infinitesimal quantities,” he told BFMTV, adding that the metal plays a part in the functioning of cells and enzymes. 
 
He added, however, that it could be harmful to the brain development of unborn children, the channel reported. 
 
“Pregnant women should eat fish in limited quantities,” he said. 
 
Besides potentially dangerous metals, the study also found that France's tuna cans contained some unsavoury products, three of the brands containing traces of tuna heart.
 
Five of the products had a notable amount of bones inside, and tuna from the brand Cora even contained traces of the fish's reproductive egg cells. 
 
The magazine was quick to note that the codes of practice don't actually prohibit other parts of a fish (besides fillets) being inside the tin, but added that these were “unappetizing ingredients” to say the least. 
 
To order the May issue of the mag, click here

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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