© Denzil Green
Canned Tuna accounts for about 99% of Tuna eaten; only about 1% is sold fresh. Tuna is a fish that even people who don’t generally like fish will eat, owing to its not tasting fishy.
In 2001, the top 3 tinned-Tuna consuming countries in Europe were the UK, France and Germany, in that order.
Tuna sold in France comes from Africa and the Indian ocean. France has traditionally imported the Tuna and canned it in France, but at the end of the 1900s a trend began to can it closer to where the fish is being caught to take advantage of lower production costs outside the EU. Germany imports most of its tinned Tuna from France.
Whether fresh, or frozen then thawed, raw Tuna turns a brown colour that is not appealing to consumers. The brown colour — called “chocolate” in the Tuna industry — does not mean that the Tuna is not fresh, but just as for beef, consumers look in raw Tuna for a red colour to indicate freshness. They don’t want to buy browned raw tuna. Consequently, much fresh Tuna today is sprayed with carbon monoxide to stop the tuna from browning. The carbon monoxide does nothing to preserve quality of the fish, just the colour. The spray can even make Tuna that has gone brown go back to red. Treated fish will stay reddish for a few days, then fade to a pink, but it won’t ever brown after that, even when the fish has gone bad. Consequently, though the process is safe and carbon monoxide is harmless (unless breathed, of course), the process is banned in Canada, Japan and the EU because it could be used to disguise fish that has gone off. It is still legal in America.
As carbon dioxide is sometimes derived from wood smoke, on the packaging of treated frozen Tuna you may see “treated with wood smoke” or just “wood smoke” as an ingredient.
When buying fresh Tuna, avoid Tuna that is displayed on ice as the ice draws out the flavour of the fish.
Albacore Tuna, which is white Tuna, is considered more desirable owing to its milder taste and is consequently more expensive.
Bluefin Tuna is said to be better for barbequing, as it has more fat, and so stays moister on the grill.
Bluefin flesh is dark red, almost like meat, and is very popular in Japan.
The fish grows to about 10 feet long (3 metres) and can live up to 7 years.
Skipjack is the Tuna that you usually find canned.
People who like fish often prefer Yellowfin, whose flesh is a pale pink with a stronger taste.
Yellowfin tuna live in the Pacific and can grow up to 300 pounds (135 kg.)
1 x 170g / 6 oz tin = 120 g / 4 oz, drained.
Tinned Tuna has a shelf life of four years (unopened, of course.) Pouched Tuna has a shelf life of two years.
After opening tinned or pouched Tuna, store any remainders in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze it.
Nutritionists look to some fish as a rich source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly blue fish (aka oily fish). The UK government does not consider tuna to be an oily fish, and so it does not count as part of its nutritional intake recommendations in that particular regard:
“In September 2018 the UK’s official advice on oily fish was changed – fresh tuna no longer counts as an oily fish. This is because current data shows that levels of long chain n3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids in fresh tuna are comparable to that found in most white fish. As the evidence no longer supports fresh tuna being classified as an oily fish, Public Health England have changed government advice to reflect this. Advice on canned tuna remains the same; it does not count as an oily fish.” Clark, Rachel. In the news: fresh tuna no longer counts as an oily fish. World Cancer Research Fund. 3 December 2018. Accessed March 2021 at https://www.wcrf-uk.org/informed/articles/news-fresh-tuna-no-longer-counts-oily-fish
This applies whether or not the tinned tuna is packed in oil.
Tuna has been fished by Pacific peoples for millennia. In the Mediterranean, Tuna has been a part of their diet since the Greeks and Romans.
Not much Tuna was eaten by the English-speaking world, however, prior to the 1910s. Fishing for albacore Tuna to be sold fresh began off the coast of southern California in the late 1800s.
Tuna really only became available, however, with the advent of canned Tuna. Canning turned out to be an ideal way of preserving Tuna and to reach inland markets. A Tuna canning factory was established in Olhão, Portugal in 1882. By the 1880s, the US was importing canned Tuna from France. In 1903, a trial of canned albacore in California proved successful and the American canned Tuna industry took off. Demand led to the canning of skipjack, bluefin and yellowfin in America by the 1920s.
In America, in the 1920s, tinned Tuna was considerably more expensive than salmon:
“SALMON – Extra fancy light red meat, 1 lb. cans, each 19 C.
TUNA FISH – “Chicken of the Sea.” The very finest white meat. 1 lb cans, in olive oil, per can 79 C.” 
Literature & Lore
Tuna is the god of eels in Polynesian mythology.
“You can tune a piano, but you can’t Tuna fish.”
The word “Tuna”, it’s thought, was coined by Spanish Americans, with its origins in the Latin word for Tuna, “thunnus”. How is not exactly sure, given that the Spanish in Central America use the word “Tuna” to mean cactus fruit, and “atún” for the fish. The English word for Tuna had been “tunny” (sic). “Tuna” begins appearing in print in English around about the early 1880s, and twenty years later, by the early 1900s, seems to have replaced the word “tunny” altogether.
Tuna is called “maguro” in Japanese.
Albacore Tuna is called “Liche” in French.
 Ad placed by the Brady Street Basket grocery store. Davenport Democrat and Leader. Davenport, Indiana. 17 July 1925. Page 15.
FAO. Canned Tuna: “Canned tuna imports up in key European markets in 2002” in “FISH INFOnetwork Market Report”, March 2003. Published by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Eurofish Division, Copenhagen.
Moskin, Julia. Tuna’s Red Glare? It Could Be Carbon Monoxide. New York Times. 6 October 2004.
Rose, Michel. French fishermen fear end of sushi bonanza: France hesitates to support bluefin tuna trade ban as fishermen’s jobs depend on outcome. London: Daily Telegraph. 28 January 2010.
|↑1||Clark, Rachel. In the news: fresh tuna no longer counts as an oily fish. World Cancer Research Fund. 3 December 2018. Accessed March 2021 at https://www.wcrf-uk.org/informed/articles/news-fresh-tuna-no-longer-counts-oily-fish|