How is Canned Tuna Made? From the Ocean to Your Pantry

Canned tuna is one of the most popular seafood items found in your pantry. It is considered one of the most affordable sources of protein and is versatile in the kitchen. Tuna in a can is easy to store, transport, and prepare. Have you ever wondered how canned tuna is made? In this article, we will take a deep dive into the process of making canned tuna, from the ocean to your pantry.

The Start of the Journey

The journey of canned tuna starts deep in the heart of the ocean. Tuna fish is one of the most popular fishes for canning due to its rich, flavorful taste and a high level of protein content. Canned tuna is made from different species of tuna fish, such as Yellowfin, Albacore, and Skipjack, depending on the region and market demand.

Fishing vessels equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment head out into the open sea, where they use different methods to catch the tuna fish. Some of the most common fishing methods used for catching tuna are:

  • Pole and Line
  • Purse Seining
  • Longline Fishing
  • Trolling

Pole and Line

Pole and line fishing is the most selective and sustainable way of catching tuna fish. This method involves using a fishing line with bait attached and is pulled out of the water by a fisherman when a tuna fish takes the bait. This method ensures that only the targeted fish is caught, and there is minimal bycatch.

Purse Seining

The purse seine method involves using a large net that is set around a school of tuna. The bottom of the net is then closed and pulled up, capturing a large number of tuna fish simultaneously. This method is considered quite efficient and is often used for commercial fishing.

Longline Fishing

Longline fishing involves using a long line that has baited hooks attached to it. The line can be up to several miles long, and it is set in the open ocean. This method catches a large number of fish simultaneously and is often used for commercial fishing. However, there is a high instance of bycatch in this method.


Trolling involves dragging a baited lure behind a boat at a slow speed. This method is used to catch a variety of fish and is often used by recreational anglers.

The Processing of Tuna Fish

Once the fish is caught, it is immediately stored in a refrigerated hold to keep it fresh until it reaches the processing plant. The processing of tuna fish involves several stages:

Gutting and Cleaning

When the tuna fish arrives at the processing plant, it undergoes the stage of gutting and cleaning. This process involves removing the head, tail, and internal organs of the fish. The fish is then washed thoroughly to remove any remaining blood and debris.

Cooking and Canning

After gutting and cleaning, the tuna fish is cooked. The cooking process involves steaming or boiling the fish to a specific temperature and time to ensure that the fish is fully cooked and safe for consumption. Next, the cooked fish is canned by mixing it with brine, oil, or water. The cans are then sealed tightly to prevent contamination.

The Canning Process

After the tuna fish is cooked and canned, it undergoes several stages of processing before it is ready to be sold in your local grocery store. The canning process involves:

Washing and Cleaning

The canned tuna undergoes a washing and cleaning process to remove any dirt and debris from the can’s surface. This is an important stage to ensure that the tuna fish inside the can is not contaminated with any harmful substances.

Labeling and Packaging

This process involves printing and attaching labels to the can, which provides information such as the brand name, expiration date, and nutritional value of the product. The cans are then packaged into cartons or boxes and are labeled for shipping.

The Final Destination

After the tuna fish is canned, labeled, and packaged, it is ready to be shipped to your local grocery store. The canned tuna fish is transported using refrigerated trucks or cargo ships to maintain the quality and freshness of the fish. Once it arrives at the grocery store, it is placed on the shelves waiting for you to purchase and enjoy.

The Benefits of Eating Canned Tuna

Canned tuna fish is packed with several nutritional benefits. It is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. Additionally, canned tuna fish is low in calories, making it an ideal food for people who are trying to lose weight. It is also an affordable and convenient source of protein that can be used in a variety of different recipes.

Common Questions about Canned Tuna

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about canned tuna:

  • Q: Can I eat canned tuna every day?
  • A: Yes, you can eat canned tuna every day as part of a healthy diet. However, it is recommended to not exceed two to three servings per week as canned tuna may contain high levels of mercury.
  • Q: How long does canned tuna last?
  • A: Canned tuna fish can last up to three to five years if stored properly in a cool, dry place.
  • Q: Is canned tuna fish safe for pregnant women?
  • A: Pregnant women can safely consume canned tuna fish, but it is recommended to not exceed two to three servings per week due to the risk of mercury contamination.
  • Q: How is canned tuna fish different than fresh tuna fish?
  • A: The main difference between canned tuna fish and fresh tuna fish is the processing method. Fresh tuna fish is usually served raw or seared, while canned tuna fish is cooked and preserved in a can with additional ingredients.


Canned tuna fish is a popular and affordable source of protein that is enjoyed in households worldwide. The process of making canned tuna fish is quite simple and involves catching the fish, cleaning and cooking it, and canning it in brine, oil, or water. The canned tuna fish then undergoes several stages of processing before it is ready to be sold in your local grocery store. Eating canned tuna fish has several nutritional benefits and is a convenient source of protein that can be used in a variety of different recipes.


1. General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean. (2021). Fishing methods. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

2. National Fisheries Institute. (2018). Tuna. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Mercury levels in seafood species. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

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