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Canned Tuna?

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What is happening to canned tuna? The most recent can of Chicken of the Sea "chunk lite" in water I've opened was a slurry of fine particles including gray skin that couldn't be drained and smelled terrible. My cats turned up their noses.
The stuff is expensive. Must we turn to the gourmet brands for a simple tuna salad?

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  1. According to Cook's Illustrated, due to demand for inexpensive tuna, the major producers have tweaked their methods to get the highest rate of "recovery" of flesh from the fish, hence the ever smaller pieces. They cook the tuna before hand packing it in cans and then the can is cooked again as part of the canning process after sealing. (They have to hand pack the cans as attempts at automatic processing clogs the equipment). The double cooking yields maximum flesh from the tuna, but reduces quality of the canned tuna. The final product is drier and with little taste, causing the major packers to use more water and vegetable broth to try to add moisture and flavor back into the can.

    The two top rated tunas in the list below, pack their tuna raw into the can (getting less flesh from the tuna in the process), but only cook the tuna once as part of the canning process. Cook's Illustrated states those top two have better texture and flavor than the rest.

    Cook's Illustrated also weighed the drained tuna and found that the top two had up to a 1/2 ounce more meat per can and a lot less water packed in the can as compared to the other major brands who pack in more water.

    They tested tuna from the supermarket and here's how they ranked according to taste and texture in July 2011.
    The top two were recommended. The rest were recommended with reservations.

    -Wild Planet Wild Albacore Tuna
    -American Tuna Pole Caught Wild Albacore
    -Starkist Selects Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water
    -Bumble Bee Prime Fillet Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water
    -Chicken of the Sea Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water
    -Crown Prince Natural Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water
    -Starkist Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water
    -Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water

    1 Reply
    1. re: Antilope

      The Wild Planet is available (at some) Costco.

    2. Do a search here. There are already two or more threads currently running about canned tuna.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Bacardi1

        I just did a search and in the first 5 pages of the search I could only find one canned tuna topic, about what to do with canned tuna, not about quality.

        This is the only recent thread that I could find about canned tuna quality.

        Can you provide a link to the other threads?

        1. re: Antilope

          imported Italian Tuna in olive oil is really the only way to go.....

          1. re: ospreycove

            Yes,absolutely.....imported Italian tuna in olive oil is THE ONLY way to go!!

            1. re: grangie angie

              The line-caught Ortiz tuna in olive oil from Spain and the A’s do Mar brand (also in OO) from Portugal are also very good.

          2. re: Antilope

            On general chowhounding topics: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852701

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6792...

        2. I read all of this thread and the links within and feel like I'm missing something. Here, tuna is 30 cents a can. I've never seen grey skin in a can and if anything, the ones labelled as a 'chunky,' variety are almost too chunky to get out of the can (even no name brand).

          Did some canned tuna crisis happen in the last 24 hours I don't know about?

          15 Replies
          1. re: Jjjr

            Where are you? I cannot fi d even the worst catfood tuna under a dollar thirty . Really?

            1. re: suzigirl

              East Coast Canada.

              Is canned tuna really that much of a commodity in other parts of this continent?

              This is a total newsflash to me

              1. re: Jjjr

                Our tuna is about $2 per can and upward. Not even good brands, either. Those are more expensive. I live in Alberta.

                1. re: Jjjr

                  I get David and Lisa's wild line caught sustainable tuna 6 ounce can $9.99. Being line caught, they are smaller and have less time to build up toxins. Sashimi grade and delicious.

                  1. re: shecrab

                    Now THAT is my kind of canned tuna. Sounds incredible!

                    1. re: shecrab

                      Hmm, shashimi grade tuna, cooked and canned, for $9.99 a can. Sounds like a waste of sushimi grade tuna AND money to me.

                      1. re: Jjjr

                        Sounds like a rip-off to me, I don't know what is going in those cans but it isn't Sashimi grade tuna.

                    2. re: Jjjr

                      I guess it is, a good canned tuna is going to cost me at least 3 dollars US. And that is water packed, not evoo or plain oil. That is way more. Don't even get me started about the uber delicious Italian olive oil packed stuff fit for salad nisoise.

                      1. re: suzigirl

                        Wow, well I learned something new today. No idea tuna was expensive for some people

                        There are olive oil packed ones that here are about $1.40 here that come in a snack size can with a tear off lid meant to be eaten out of the can. I'm talking the regular main brands. As for the fancy Italian olive oil ones I guess those would be expected to cost more, and they do sound nice. I've just never seen a can of tuna I would call 'expensive.'

                  2. re: Jjjr

                    Are you sure you are not in the pet food aisle?

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      I'm sure

                      1. re: ospreycove

                        Jjjr is definitely NOT in the pet food aisle. That's what I pay here for Starkist's wonderful olive-oil packed tuna (around $1.45/can), in all the major supermarkets - Giant, Martins, Safeway, etc., etc. Sounds like you're getting rooked price-wise if you're paying a lot more for standard-brand tuna.

                        1. re: Bacardi1

                          Bar. ........Jjjr had a previous post where he/she stated that tuna was 30 cents a can where he/she shopped.

                          "
                          I read all of this thread and the links within and feel like I'm missing something. Here, tuna is 30 cents a can. I've never seen grey skin in a can and if anything, the ones labelled as a 'chunky,' variety are almost too chunky to get out of the can (even no name brand).

                          Did some canned tuna crisis happen in the last 24 hours I don't know about?

                          Permalink | Report | Reply
                          By Jjjr about 18 hours ago

                          1. re: ospreycove

                            Don't know where either you or jjjr live, but canned tuna has been well over $1 for the past 5 years or even longer here in Virginia. Sorry for both of you if this price sounds unduly disparate in either direction. It's a fact here

                            1. re: Bacardi1

                              Bar......30 cents a can is good for cat food here; but a really good can, (glass jar) of Italian, (sicilian), is upwards of $7.50 and more, but worth every penny.

                    2. The best regular canned tuna (not imported or canned in olive oil, etc.) is Costco's Kirkland brand. It is albacore. It is very good. I don't of a good standard grocery brand of chunk style tuna anymore.

                      One sort you might try is tongol tuna, but apparently only Malaysia manages this tuna species correctly. I was eating tongol before I started buying Kirkland. http://tinyurl.com/d9u9e2y Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

                      There is supposed to be more lead in albacore, so, if the latest advice is still what I learned a number of years ago, you should limit eating it to once a week.

                      1. I was considering starting a thread on Tuna earlier. Looked through the local sales ads and was happy to see that canned Tuna was on sale. One store had it at 1$ and another 88 cents. When I got to the 2nd store I picked up the can to check if thy had added anything I wasn't a fan of. There on the back label in the ingredients list were the words, "Contains Soy." I was a bit disappointed. When I buy Tuna I want Tuna.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dbirney

                          The Geisha brand solid albacore is quite good and often on sale for 1.49 i stock up. Second choice is bumble bee inn the gold cans and packed in olive oil

                        2. What you are telling us doesn't surprise me. I try not to buy canned anything, but when I buy canned tuna I splurge on the GENOVA in olive oil. That almost sounded like a Dos Equis commercial :)

                          1. Sorry, I'm duplicating the post I made under "best canned tuna" as it seems even more appropriate here - and I don't know how to do links.

                            I've been trying to figure out what happened to the canned tuna of my youth - while reading all the spew about every single major vendor of tinned tuna. It is all watery mush - shredded tuna.

                            I found the answer at the procedures at the FDA to determine what can be called "chunk" tuna.

                            The bottom line is that the canners are allowed to compress the contents of a can of tuna with a hydraulic press to a pressure of 384 pounds per square inch for one minute. As we all squeeze the water out over the sink by cutting the lid free and squeezing with our fingers - all we need to do to duplicate the canner is to press the lid of a typical 5 oz tin with around 1 1/2 tons of pressure - 3322.27 pounds to be precise. Say the entire weight of your compact car all concentrated on that little 3 1/4" lid.

                            With these specification they could make "chunk" tuna out of dehydrated tuna POWDER!

                            There is no "best canned tuna."

                            FYI:
                            [Code of Federal Regulations]
                            [Title 21, Volume 2]
                            [Revised as of April 1, 2012]
                            [CITE: 21CFR161.190]
                            TITLE 21--FOOD AND DRUGS
                            CHAPTER I--FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
                            DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

                            SUBCHAPTER B--FOOD FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION

                            PART 161 -- FISH AND SHELLFISH

                            Subpart B--Requirements for Specific Standardized Fish and Shellfish Sec. 161.190 Canned tuna.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tjohn

                              "Chunk" tuna has never been especially good. The solid tunas have consistently been of a better quality and it is among those that people here are debating.

                              1. re: ferret

                                Thanks ferret, but my solid white albacore goes on top of salads. I just miss the inexpensive chunk non-white tuna that had real chunks you had to break apart with a fork to make tuna "salad" sandwiches. I'm not wasting my pricey albacore on pickle relish, minced onion and mayo ;-)

                            2. Have not bought canned tuna in years. 'Chunk lite' is an inferior grade, would buy solid white in oil, preferably olive.
                              Read label for origin! Avoid Asian source. They tend to be poor stewards of the environment. I know that is a hasty generalization but US and Canada are the best regulated these days.