Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shark Entree Featured at Taste of Chicago; Humana Labels it a "Healthy Choice"

The popular food festival, Taste of Chicago, has begun and to our horror we have learned that shark is one of the featured offerings at the Polo Cafe's booth. They have been serving "Shark Vera Cruz" in their restaurant and at the Taste for years, along with "Shark and Olives." For some inconceivable reason, Humana Inc, a health benefits company, has decided to promote shark as one of the healthier choices at the Taste.

We have sent the following letter to Humana and we have contacted the organizers of the Taste of Chicago, the Polo Cafe and the Chicago Tribune, as well, to apprise them of the facts related to eating shark.

A recommendation from a large, respected health organization promoting shark meat as a healthy choice is huge blow to shark populations, which are already in serious trouble. In light of this week's IUCN report showing that a third of all open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction (, this recommendation is highly irresponsible. The Taste of Chicago, Humana and the Polo Cafe highlighting this menu item only encourages people to look for and request shark at grocery stores and restaurants.

We will keep you posted as to the response. In the meantime, please contact any of the following with your POLITE and RESPECTFUL comments! Please also contact any other media outlets that have run this story to urge them to give their readers and viewers the real facts. If you're in the Chicago area attending the festival, you may also stop by the booth and directly, but respectfully urge them to stop serving shark.

Polo Café:
Dave Samber - Owner
+1 (773) 927-POLO
Taste of Chicago 2009: June 26-July 5

Jim Turner - Manager, Corporate Media Relations
+1 (502) 476-2119

Taste of Chicago:
City of Chicago, Mayor's Office of Special Events (MOSE)
Megan McDonald, Executive Director
Mayor's Office of Special Events
121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 806
Chicago, IL 60602

Chicago Tribune:

• Local News: 312-222-3540
• Business: 312-222-5944
• Features: 312-222-3001
E-mail letter to the editor:

Here is the letter we emailed to Humana:

Dear Mr. Turner,

Humana is highly regarded as a leader in health care and known for enabling people to make well-informed decisions regarding their health care and healthy lifestyles. Which is why we are shocked at Humana’s decision to promote shark meat as one of the “healthier choice” entrees featured at the Taste of Chicago festival.

Humana has effectively provided a seal of approval for a product that carries warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Defense Fund, Seafood Watch, the New York Department of Health, to name but a few organizations. With all of these highly respected entities publicly disagreeing with Humana’s recommendations, one might wonder how responsible and informed Humana’s recommendations truly are.

Indeed, there is much research and publicly available data regarding the serious health issues associated with consumption of shark meat due to the high levels of mercury and other contaminants in the shark’s flesh. Because of these health risks, most health organizations advise that women of child-bearing age and children should not consume any shark meat at all, and everyone else should limit consumption to no more than one serving per month. The Florida Dept. of Health goes further to warn that EVERYONE should avoid eating meat from any sharks over 43 inches.

In addition to the risks posed to people by consuming shark meat, there are significant health risks for our planet. Sharks around the world are threatened with extinction due to overfishing. Populations of many shark species have decreased by as much as 90% just in the past thirty years. As the apex predators of the oceans, the role of sharks is to keep other marine life in healthy balance and to regulate the world’s largest and most important ecosystem. Removing sharks seriously upsets this delicate balance. A number of studies are already indicating that regional elimination of sharks can cause disastrous effects including the collapse of fisheries and the death of coral reefs.

There are many healthy and responsible seafood choices available that provide high quality lean protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids without unnecessarily exposing consumers to mercury and other dangerous toxins and without damaging the environment ((please see attached Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide ( and Shark Fact Sheet (

Humana has been a leader in quality healthcare and health choices. By recommending safe and sustainable seafood choices, Humana can only stand to gain by leading the industry in environmental responsibility as well.

Now that Humana is aware of the situation, we cannot imagine you will stand behind these flawed recommendations. We respectfully request that Humana take a stand and immediately rescind its recommendation of shark as a healthy choice option. We further request that Humana issue a retracting statement to all media outlets to which these recommendations were promoted. Finally, the recommendation should be withdrawn from the literature at the Taste of Chicago booth. Instead, the public, especially women and children, should be properly warned about the dangers of consuming shark – consistent with the recommendations of the EPA and the FDA.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We will be happy to provide you with further research studies and to answer any questions you may have.

Best Regards,

Shark Safe

Shark Savers

Shark Angels

Sea Shepherd

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