The year was 1971 and it was a scientist at Binghamton University who caused a national stir with the concerning food discovery he made.

In January of 1971, the chemist, Dr. Bruce R. McDuffie, discovered something fishy about, well, fish. He found that people who ate certain types of fish had a whole lot more mercury in their bodies compared to those who didn't and his findings caused a huge stir.

McDuffie discovered that people who ate certain types of fish regularly had up to five times the amount of mercury in their systems compared to people who didn't. While none of the levels McDuffie found were known to be hazardous, there was a suggestion that mercury could build up in the human body and have a long-term effect, potentially causing harm over time.

McDuffie's findings caused concern among consumer groups and even the FDA. When it was discovered that there were high levels of mercury in random samples of canned tuna fish and frozen swordfish bought in grocery stores around Binghamton. The discovery led to the recall of millions of cans of tuna and virtually all frozen swordfish sold in the United States.

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Weight Watchers members across Binghamton were targeted in McDufie's study since the diet they were following emphasized fish, particularly tuna. Of the 62 participants in the study, 42 were on a special weight reduction diet that included fish. McDuffie tested for mercury in samples of blood, hair, and urine taken from both groups.

While the study caused concern at the time, there was no need for widespread panic. The levels of mercury found in the fish-eating group did not reach the toxic level at which they could be harmful, according to McDuffie's findings. The ocean was deemed vast enough to dilute any mercury contamination to the point where it would not be picked up in significant concentrations by fish.

However, McDuffie's study did recommend that small dosages of mercury over long periods of time should be studied extensively if foods containing significant amounts of mercury were to be continued in the human diet.

McDuffie's study reinforced the importance of food safety regulations and consumer awareness of food content and potential side effects.

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