MANY PEOPLE HAVE their “million-dollar idea,” the vision of something that will forever change not only their lives, but also the lives of countless others. Sean Wittenberg and Bryan Boches, who grew up next door to each other in Corte Madera, had such a thought with their on-the-spot mercury-testing technology for harvested tuna.
The concept was hatched when Boches’ wife was pregnant and for safety reasons needed to forgo the readily available protein-rich fish. Tuna, the top-selling canned fish for many years, had fallen to number three recently, mostly due to consumer concerns about high levels of mercury. So Wittenberg, Boches and business partners created a technology for instantly testing tuna for mercury while the fish was being inspected at market. The men were convinced this breakthrough would be bought hook, line and sinker by the canned tuna companies, only to be rudely awakened when no one bit. “We thought, ‘If we solve this huge problem companies will come running to us’ — and no one came!” Boches says. Disheartened but determined, they set out to start their own canned tuna business and founded Safe Catch.
Safe Catch offers six flavors of naturally seasoned “elite” tuna, as well as canned albacore and tuna in a pouch. All products are sustainably caught, are additive- and filler-free, and have the lowest mercury levels of any brand.
Sausalito-based Safe Catch sells its products in over 5,000 stores nationally and is the fastest-growing shelf-stable seafood company in the United States.
WHAT THEY SAY
“Every day you vote when you go buy something in the store,” Boches says. “Marin is a great place to be because people are interested and want to know — food is the next internet. There is a lot of innovation in food technology and so much ground to run here.”
• More than 1 million fish tested.
• 1 in 3 fish it inspects don’t pass the mercury test.
• Fish go through a 3-step check: quality, sustainability, purity.
• Mercury “bioaccumulates” in the larger predators, making them riskier to eat.
• Northern Pacific Ocean mercury levels have risen 30 percent in 20 years.
• Mercury can affect most of your organs, especially the brain, heart, kidneys and gut.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s September 2017 print edition under the headline: “Safe Catch.”
Kasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include travel, trends, mushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction, and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is a never-ending endeavor.