Safe Harbor Certified Seafood
Safe Harbor Certified Seafood is the first brand developed under San Rafael, California based Micro Analytical Systems, Inc. (MASI). Seafood bearing the Safe Harbor seal is tested for overall mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

 content to be under the FDA's action level of 1ppm, histamine
Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound involved in local immune responses as well as regulating physiological function in the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter. Histamine triggers the inflammatory response. As part of an immune response to foreign pathogens, histamine is produced by...

, Escherichia coli O157:H7
Escherichia coli O157:H7
Escherichia coli O157:H7 is an enterohemorrhagic strain of the bacterium Escherichia coli and a cause of foodborne illness. Infection often leads to hemorrhagic diarrhea, and occasionally to kidney failure, especially in young children and elderly persons...

(E.coli O157:H7) and salmonella
Salmonella is a genus of rod-shaped, Gram-negative, non-spore-forming, predominantly motile enterobacteria with diameters around 0.7 to 1.5 µm, lengths from 2 to 5 µm, and flagella which grade in all directions . They are chemoorganotrophs, obtaining their energy from oxidation and reduction...

. Every large fin fish is individually tested by MASI personnel so the maximum mercury level in that fish does not exceed the limit set for that species. In addition, most shellfish and farmed species of catfish
Catfishes are a diverse group of ray-finned fish. Named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat's whiskers, catfish range in size and behavior from the heaviest and longest, the Mekong giant catfish from Southeast Asia and the second longest, the wels catfish of Eurasia, to detritivores...

, shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

 and tilapia
Tilapia , is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia inhabit a variety of fresh water habitats, including shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa and the...

 are screened for E.coli O157:H7 and Salmonella while exotic species like tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

, mahi mahi and swordfish
Swordfish , also known as broadbill in some countries, are large, highly migratory, predatory fish characterized by a long, flat bill. They are a popular sport fish of the billfish category, though elusive. Swordfish are elongated, round-bodied, and lose all teeth and scales by adulthood...

 are tested for scombroid food poisoning see histamine
Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound involved in local immune responses as well as regulating physiological function in the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter. Histamine triggers the inflammatory response. As part of an immune response to foreign pathogens, histamine is produced by...

. Fish that are not individually tested (fish generally known to be lower in mercury, two lbs and under) are batch tested using an ANSI
Ansi is a village in Kaarma Parish, Saare County, on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia....

 approved sampling algorithm ensuring a 95% confidence rate that the respective lot being tested falls under the Safe Harbor standard set for that species.


In 2002, Micro Analytical Systems, Inc. (MASI) developed technology for testing seafood for its mercury concentration. A decade of research and development led to the development of a proprietary technology that can test any tissue sample for overall mercury concentrations. Tissue samples are extracted using a modified biopsy needle with quantitative results registering in less than 60 seconds. In contrast to other conventional testing procedures, the nature of the technology and the speed of the testing process not only allows the sample to then be consumed, the testing can be done in real-time in processing and distribution facilities, on the production line. According to their data, MASI has conducted over 200,000 tests on seafood to determine its mercury concentration and presence of histamine and harmful pathogens.

In 2010, MASI began testing for E.coli O157 :H7 and Salmonella through the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based technology. In addition, MASI also began testing for histamine, a product of spoilage due to time and temperature abuse usually as a result of improper handling, temperature control and elevated levels of histamine producing bacteria in the marine environment. MASI uses the competitive ELISA (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) method for the screening of histamine in scombroid
Scombroid food poisoning is a foodborne illness that results from eating spoiled fish. It is the second most common type of seafood poisoning, second only to ciguatera. However it is often missed because it resembles an allergic reaction...

 species of fish.

Testing locations

MASI tests fish under the Safe Harbor Label at these following cities around the world:
  • Las Vegas
    Las Vegas metropolitan area
    The Las Vegas Valley is the heart of the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA also known as the Las Vegas–Paradise–Henderson MSA which includes all of Clark County, Nevada, and is a metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The Valley is defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a ...

    , NV, USA
  • Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

    , IL, USA
  • Hawaii
    Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

    , HI, USA
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Emeryville, CA, USA

External links

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