woman with caption 'what happened to canned tuna?' (l&r) canned tuna (c)

OoddySmile Studio/Shutterstock @amandaperfectmess/TikTok (Licensed)

‘It doesn’t taste good’: Woman says Chicken Of the Sea and Bumble Bee Tuna have gone down in quality

'It is not solid.'


Brooke Sjoberg


Posted on May 6, 2024   Updated on May 6, 2024, 9:07 am CDT

The rising cost of food and other consumables has led many shoppers in the U.S. to become ever more selective about the products they choose to keep in their pantries.

One loyal customer of popular canned tuna fish brands Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee Tuna says she has noticed a dramatic change in the quality of the packaged fish, which she says she used to purchase from these brands on a regular basis.

In a video posted to TikTok, user Amanda (@amandaperfectmess) says the quality issues she is experiencing are broadly concerning the texture of the canned fish, which she says is no longer firm but mealy.

“I wanted to talk about the fact that the products that we are buying in the U.S. are changing, and it’s not for the better,” she says in the video. “I had this conversation with my mom recently, we both love tuna fish. We love canned tuna, but we buy exclusively in water. There’s a lot of brands that make this. We buy Bumblebee and we buy the generic, Chicken of the Sea, all of these. And we’ve noticed that it tastes overly fishy, and it is not—it used to be packed, and now it’s mushy. What’s the word I’m looking for—it’s mealy, almost, like it’s not solid. It’s like the other tuna that I never have, and that’s why I specifically buy what I buy.”

To see whether it was a broader change in the quality of packaged tuna fish or just the brands she had purchased for years, Amanda and her mother tried a more expensive option. Unfortunately, she says the more expensive tuna at $3 to $4 a can tastes the way the affordable cans of tuna used to taste.

“She tried it and she was like, ‘It’s true,'” Amanda recalls. “The really expensive tuna right now tastes the way that tuna used to taste. The tuna that we’ve been buying for years and years and years tastes bad. It doesn’t taste the same.”

While Amanda is uncertain of the cause of the change, she says it’s noticeably different.

“I don’t know if there’s a change in fishing or whatever, or packaging that I’m not aware of, so feel free to chime in on this, but I am now a person who has to pay $3-$4 a can for tuna fish if I want it to taste like tuna fish always did,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s going to taste like cat food. That’s what it reminds me of, if you buy regular tuna. It is smushy, it is mealy, it is not packed tight, it is not quality, it is not solid.”

Amanda concludes that she won’t be able to eat tuna as regularly as she’d like because she now has to buy more expensive brands.

While it’s not clear whether there is a pervasive issue in fish quality, there is some research showing an increase in Mushy Tuna Syndrome, a flesh quality issue in the fish packing industry that occurs during packing and can harm texture quality. A 2023 study from the Global Seafood Alliance reported that many of these cases came from canned skipjack tuna, as skipjack accounts for about half of this kind of product. The study also noted that albacore tuna, which Amanda specifies is the type that she buys, can face Mushy Tuna Syndrome if the fish does not maintain the proper temperature control from fishing to canning.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Amanda via TikTok direct message, as well as to Bumblebee Tuna and Chicken of the Sea via online contact forms.

Some viewers commented on the video that they are noticing similar downgrades in quality, and it’s not just tuna fish.

“Butter isn’t the same either,” one commenter wrote.

“I feel the same way about Campbells soup,” another said.

“EVERYTHING has changed!” a third added. “Tuna was one of the first items I noticed.”

@amandaperfectmess What happened to canned tuna? @Chicken of the Sea #cannedtuna #tunasalad #pickles @tonnino tuna ♬ original sound – AmandaPerfectMess

Others suggested that the issues they were experiencing with longtime favorite foods were down to how the items were processed, and have found less processed versions of the same items to be more palatable.

“I went through the same thing with meat and butter!” one commenter wrote. “Had horrible heartburn! Changed to farmers beef and Amish butter! No heartburn!”

“StarKist tuna??” another said. “I think it’s so great… I could never eat bumblebee or any of the others they were always mealy.”

“Funny. I just did a comparison with high end & Trader Joe’s solid white,” a third said. “The TJ’s tuna was just as good and not as expensive.”

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*First Published: May 6, 2024, 11:00 am CDT