5 Highest Quality And 5 Lowest Quality Tuna Brands

When it comes to canned meats, tuna takes the cake as one of the most popular options out there. Renowned for its low calorie count, high levels of lean protein, and ease of preparation, canned tuna is topped on crackers, shaped into patties, and sprinkled on salads in millions of homes across the United States and the world.

And just as tuna is varied in its uses, so too are the canned seafood brands offering up their takes on grocery shelves. It can sometimes feel overwhelming, in fact, to scan the aisles bursting with tuna options in search of your perfect canned fish. So where to start? Using an assessment of fishing methods, sustainability certifications, processing techniques, and additives, we've compiled a list of five of the highest quality — as well as five of the lowest — grocery store tuna brands to keep in mind the next time you go shopping for your favorite snack, lunch, or dinnertime protein.

High quality: Wild Planet

Wild Planet is a seafood brand selling salmon, sardines, tuna, and more which has been making a splash in the industry for the sustainability of its fishing tactics. Its products are wild-caught using pole & line fishing methods — in other words, fish are caught individually, the old fashioned way, using fishing poles. This traditional technique is considered the most beneficial for the environment, as it prevents overfishing, the accidental capture of endangered marine life, and allows fishermen to be selective about the catches they keep.

Because the tunas that Wild Planet chooses for processing are hand-selected by fishermen, you can expect a high-quality, nutrient dense fish in every can. The flesh is minimally processed and cooked within the can itself, so that no nutrients are lost during the cooking transfer process. In addition, there are no high-calorie oils or space-taking water added to the mix. Any liquids you find in the bottom of your Wild Planet can are simply the fish's natural juices — giving this one an A+ from a purity standpoint. However, it's important to note that a recent Consumer Reports article listed Wild Planet's tuna as having slightly higher than average mercury levels as compared to other brands. This may affect how many cans of it you are able to safely eat in a week, so depending on how frequently you plan to indulge, you should weigh this aspect when deciding if Wild Planet is right for you.

High Quality: Safe Catch

Mercury is a toxic metal occurring in nature that fish absorb as they feed and swim. Some forms of tuna, such as albacore or bigeye, are considered to be relatively high-mercury fishes, so ensuring that safe levels are being eaten is important for tuna eaters. The FDA currently recommends about 2 to 3 servings (equating to about 8 to 12 ounces) of tuna and other fish in total per week for adults — and this amount may sit even lower for those populations who are particularly sensitive to mercury exposure, such as young children or pregnant people.

But if you're a tuna lover lamenting your inability to eat as much as you'd like in a week, you may want to check out this next brand on our list. Safe Catch is not only sustainably caught using environmentally safe practices, but unlike any other tuna brand on the market, it checks the mercury levels of every single fish it catches. If, upon testing, an individual tuna's levels are found to be too high, it won't be pushed out to consumers. This unique approach not only makes Safe Catch one of the safest brands on the market, it also means that by opting for it, you may be able to consume more cans of tuna in a week. If you're an ultra tuna fan, Safe Catch may be your next pantry addition.

High Quality: Blue Harbor

The Marine Stewardship Council is an organization which promotes eco-friendly fishing practices through its certification program, and has set a standard that many current seafood companies strive to reach. Those that comply with the MSC's strict guidelines and requirements for sustainable fishing can earn a blue MSC-certification stamp on their products — an encouraging sight for consumers who wish to support ocean protection through their seafood purchases.

That's what stands out about the Blue Harbor seafood company: It has a 100% MSC rating on all of its products. Per MSC requirements, Blue Harbor hones in on tuna and other fish that are of the right age for processing, releasing very young ones back into the sea and thus promoting reproduction and healthy numbers of various fish species. If canned salmon is your thing, Blue Harbor also has an Alaska Seafood certification under its belt, offering salmon which is captured cruelty-free off the coast by local Alaskan fishing families. Additionally, Blue Harbor's catches are packed up in the United States before they are shipped out to grocers — meaning that you will be supporting American workers and the country's economy through every high-quality Blue Harbor purchase. Supporting this many good causes while simultaneously getting your tuna fix? We don't see a downside here.

High Quality: Natural Catch

"From ocean to table," reads the catchphrase on the Natural Catch seafood company's website. As simple as it is, it is a statement both powerful and inviting, placing thoughts of satisfying, ocean-caught, deliciously briny tuna fish into the minds of consumers. But is the flavor really as good as it's advertised to be? According to satisfied tuna-loving consumers, Natural Catch delivers on its promised taste of the sea.

There are throngs of positive reviews regarding the superior taste of Natural Catch's tuna filet product on online retail platforms such as Amazon and Walmart,with eaters describing a smooth, quality tasting experience. Natural Catch's tuna is both sustainably captured and minimally processed, maintaining the integrity of the natural taste of the flesh during packaging. The fish is uniquely sliced into long, large filets — very similar to the cut of a steak — and is packed in organic olive oil. While this will inevitably amp up the calorie count that comes along with the tuna itself, it will also increase its depth of flavor, with the fat of the olive oil serving as an all-natural taste enhancer. Tunas packed in oil can be the superior choice for many recipes, such as a Mediterranean-style salad, pasta, or sandwich — so depending on your dinner plans, you may want to give Natural Catch a try and allow yourself to be transported to a seaside paradise with every bite.

High Quality: Tonnino

Have you ever popped open a can of delicious-smelling tuna, scooped it into a bowl, and thought to yourself as you take that first flaky bite: I wonder where in the world this particular fish was caught? Apparently, you're not alone in your musings. The drive to discover the origins of our fish is powerful enough that some seafood companies have developed track-your-tuna tools on their websites — and one seafood company in particular has developed an especially sophisticated one for its most curious consumers.

Trace Your Tuna by Tonnino offers its customers an elevated dining experience, giving the customer the keys to discover exactly when, where, and who was behind the catch of their tuna using a specially-developed code stamped on the bottom of every can. Tonnino's tool offers informative details such as the title of the fishing vessel and the ship captain's name at the click of a button — a promotion for a better understanding of the fishing industry and its processes as a whole. But if Trace Your Tuna is not enough to convince you to give this brand a go, here are another few pros for you to chew on. Tonnino products are wild-caught, dolphin-safe, mercury tested, and then hand-cut and packaged in a process that results in the locking in of superior flavor. Are you sold yet? Because we are.

Low Quality: Bumble Bee

When it comes to brand recognition, the seafood company Bumble Bee has it in strides. It's difficult, in fact, to find a grocery store where Bumble Bee's canned tuna, salmon, oysters, or sardines are not featured in the aisles by the dozens. But more does not always mean better — and in the case of this particularly well-known brand, one could argue that this sentiment rings true.

When it comes to sustainability and healthful packaging techniques, Bumble Bee tuna appears to be lagging behind some of its competitors. Accused of making false claims of dolphin safety on its products in the past, Bumble Bee now claims to be making legitimate strides toward sustainability. However, it appears to have a ways to go before all of its methods can be deemed eco-friendly. Per the company's website, just 71% of its tuna is currently considered sustainably caught — or, at least, moving in the direction of being so. In addition, much of the company's tuna comes packed in vegetable oil, a refined ingredient which is associated with obesity and poor gut health in large amounts. While we certainly have to give Bumble Bee an A+ for visibility, when all of these elements are taken into account, we just aren't convinced of the quality of its tuna.

Low Quality: Chicken Of The Sea

There are many established seafood brands declaring newfound dedication to sustainability in recent years. This includes Chicken Of The Sea, one of the most highly recognizable canned tuna companies in America. Its website contains an entire page outlining future goals, current practices, plans for improvement, and the ways in which the company desires to positively impact the fishing industry by the year 2030. While we have to commend Chicken Of The Sea's attempts at change and transparency, there are a few eyebrow-raising elements involving its tuna products as they stand today. While some cans and pouches have achieved official sustainability or dolphin-safe stamps, many others remain void of these markers. This suggests that not all of its tuna products are being sourced ethically ... at least, not yet.

In addition, there is a fair amount of recent criticism being thrown at the brand by unhappy eaters in regard to the texture of the tuna itself. Mushy, mealy, and wet were the descriptive words chosen by @amandaperfectmess on TikTok as she attacked the quality of her Chicken Of The Sea canned tuna (as reported by the Daily Dot). This isn't the only report made by consumers on the internet calling out their Chicken Of The Sea purchases for questionable texture or taste — so do with this information what you will.

Low Quality: Great Value

Great Value is one of Walmart's many in-house brands. It offers a variety of grocery products, including lunch meat, pre-packaged snacks, frozen items, and — you guessed it — canned tuna. But while opting for Walmart's often-discounted brand may leave a few extra dollars in your wallet when you fill your pantry with canned fish, it might not be the best way to receive a tuna untainted by cross-contamination.

Although Great Value produces tuna that is MSC-certified, the brand itself is not a seafood-specific one. This means it is likely being packaged in a facility that prepares a variety of other foods, making exposure to unrelated (and potentially problematic) ingredients an unfortunate possibility. This rather risky reality is disclosed on the Great Value tuna label, with a warning that divulges the packaged tuna flesh could contain traces of eggs, dairy, shrimp, coconut, wheat, soy, and sesame. Yikes. In addition to Great Value being a potentially a poor choice for those with food allergies or intolerances, there is also the matter of preservatives to consider. Some Great Value tuna products contain sodium pyrophosphate, a controversial preservative. Given this information, you'll have to decide for yourself if Walmart's brand is worth the potential pennies saved.

Low Quality: Starkist

Controversies tend to pull a tainting cloud in and around companies, and this has been especially true in the case of the seafood powerhouse Starkist. In 2019, Starkist (in conjunction with fellow tuna companies Bumble Bee and Chicken Of The Sea) was sued on the basis of dishonestly advertising dolphin safety on their labels, when its methods were allegedly harmful. And the year before, in 2018, Starkist pleaded guilty to price-fixing its tuna products alongside Bumble Bee, coming to a recent settlement in court in June 2024. This string of legal battles hasn't boded well for the brand, but in response, Starkist appears to be taking steps to better itself.

In 2021, Starkist announced its goal to have 100% of its fish sourced ethically by 2025. However, this process is still ongoing; as it stands, not every can of Starkist contains an MSC or other sustainability label. This means that some of the fish you purchase from the brand could be lower-quality, questionably-sourced tuna. In addition, much of Starkist's tuna has vegetable broth added for flavor. Shockingly enough, this even applies to some of those products labeled as being packed only in water. While this may not be an issue for all, it may not be an attractive quality if you're looking to avoid extra sodium.

Low quality: Kirkland

There's no doubt about it: Costco's Kirkland brand comes with a serious fan base. From its granola bars to its snacking nuts, Kirkland produces a varied array of grocery items which, by all counts, are considered high-quality by millions of loyal Costco patrons. However, there may be an exception to the rule to be found in the company's albacore tuna product, which comes in bulk packs from the warehouse.

Unfortunately, Kirkland was called out in 2017 for being one of the worst tuna brands from a sustainability standpoint by Greenpeace, a nonprofit dedicated to education and the improvement of environmental issues. Harmful long lines, they claimed, were the main fishing tool utilized by Costco's source — a technique which leads to the accidental capture of unrelated, sometimes endangered, species. Interestingly enough, Kirkland appears to have done nothing to address these claims or make improvements. When a class-action lawsuit was slapped against the company in 2022 for falsely using a dolphin-safe logo, rather than change its methods in response, Costco seems to have simply removed the logo from the packaging on its more recently-developed cans. In addition, the Kirkland tuna includes the synthetic preservative sodium acid pyrophosphate. While we concede that Costco's Kirkland brand often develops superior products in many cases, given this information, we can't say we can declare the same regarding its tuna option. Will you place it in your cart or leave it on the shelf during your next warehouse run? The choice is yours.