FoodDiscover the truth about canned fish: Health benefits and common manufacturer deceptions

Discover the truth about canned fish: Health benefits and common manufacturer deceptions

The best type of canned fish. Only this one you can eat without any worries.
The best type of canned fish. Only this one you can eat without any worries.
Images source: © Adobe Stock
12:30 PM EST, January 12, 2024

Canning, much like other preservation methods such as pasteurization, increases the shelf life of food. Fish is no exception. The sheer variety of canned fish available in the market, coupled with their easy access, make them a frequent pick during shopping. But how do we identify the healthiest options?

Understanding the health aspects of canned fish

The canning process involves placing the fish into cans, which are then processed at high temperatures and sealed tightly. This restricts oxygen access, ensuring that these preserved products do not require additional preservatives. However, many canned fish come with unnecessary additives, making it vital to read the labels carefully.

The Food and Nutrition Institute recommends the consumption of fish, including the canned variety. Canning does not strip fish of its nutritional value. They remain a source of top-quality protein. Though the high temperatures used in the canning process might slightly diminish the presence of some valuable ingredients, a similar reduction happens when cooking or baking fresh fish. Notably, due to the increased concentrate in the product, canned fish may pack more omega-3 acids than fresh ones.

Selecting the best canned fish

Always pay close attention to the product's ingredient list when shopping. The less it lists, the better. You can verify individual ingredients online or through specialized apps. Preservatives are unnecessary, yet they find their way into canned fish quite often. Double-check the percentage of fish in the product and opt for ones with less sauce - fish in oil or its natural sauce are your best bet.

Ensure that the can is not damaged, dented, or bulging. A distended lid could signify active spoilage. Avoid minced fish, and go for the chunk varieties, avoiding potential low-quality products repurposed from fish waste or leftovers.

Look out for any information on the package about Bisphenol A. This compound, commonly part of the glue that binds the lid and the can, has raised numerous concerns due to its potential harmful effect on the body. However, most of the time, the quantities of Bisphenol A present in canned fish are not considered unsafe. Nonetheless, canned fish without Bisphenol A can be found in the market.

How to avoid deceptions with canned fish?

A common deceptive practice by manufacturers involves packing cheaper fish under the "deli" label, which complies with EU regulations. Such duplicitous tactics taint not only everyday fish but even so-called luxury goods like sardines and anchovies.

True anchovies are exclusively made from the European species with the Latin name Engraulis encrasicolus, while canned sardines should be prepared from the species Sardina pilchardus. The Latin names both serve as indicators of authenticity, hence it's crucial to check them on the packaging.

Related content