NOAA, FDA Continue to Re-Test Gulf Seafood and Post Results
Sampling in last closed area also underway...
NOAA continues to re-test seafood from the Gulf of Mexico to
demonstrate to American and worldwide consumers that it is safe to eat,
and announced today it will continue this re-testing into the summer.
Before waters were opened to fishing, NOAA and FDA extensively
tested seafood from those waters, and NOAA has now completed two
additional rounds of sampling and testing from each of those reopened
areas. Thousands of test results, all publicly available, prove Gulf seafood is safe from oil and dispersant contamination.
In June 2010, NOAA, FDA and the Gulf states agreed upon an extensive sampling and testing procedure.
Areas once closed to fishing were reopened only when all seafood
sampled in the area passed both the established sensory and chemical
testing for oil and dispersant.
“Gulf seafood is consistently passing FDA’s safety tests by a
wide margin,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator in charge
of NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “We are continuing to test, and we are
making the data available to the public, so they can make fully
informed purchasing decisions.”
“The system set up to keep tainted seafood out of circulation
has worked,” said Don Kraemer, acting deputy director for FDA’s Center
for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Consumers should know that Gulf
seafood is extensively tested and is safe to eat.”
The nearly 500 samples in the two rounds of post-opening
testing are comprised of more than 4,300 fish and shrimp, since a
sample consists of multiple individuals. They are a representative
sample of the commercially and recreationally important fish in the
Gulf, and cover the 87,481 square miles of the Gulf that have been
reopened to fishing. The specific locations, dates of sampling,
species type, and test results are available publicly for each of the samples.
“Increased testing, and communicating about the increased
testing, is vital for Gulf fishermen and the Gulf economy, and for
consumers,” said David Krebs, a commercial fisherman and president of
the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance. “It's important to
show that our seafood has been proven safe time and time again.”
Funding for the ongoing testing comes from the Oil Spill
Liability Trust Fund, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, which is
available to finance clean-up costs that responsible parties are
ultimately required to pay. The government continues to bill responsible
parties regularly for the reimbursement of these costs.
An area covering 1,041 square miles immediately surrounding the
wellhead still remains closed to all commercial and recreational
fishing. NOAA will use an FDA-approved plan to begin sampling the
closed area on March 12, and will announce the reopening of the area if
all the samples pass the established sensory and chemical tests.
The first fishing area closure was instituted on May 2, 2010,
covering about 3 percent (6,817 square miles) of Gulf waters around the
wellhead. As oil continued to spill from the wellhead, the area grew
in size, peaking at 37 percent (88,522 square miles) of Gulf waters on