Facing South

Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

lmrk_seafood_sampling.pngIndependent testing has turned up oil contamination in Gulf seafood, raising concerns that federal officials prematurely pronounced it OK to eat.

The Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper (LMRK) has released results from seafood sampling trips conducted along a broad area of the Louisiana coast since August. The results show significant levels of petroleum in a number of species -- though the contamination was not apparent by sight or smell.

For examples, levels of total petroleum hydrocarbons in flounder and speckled trout caught in St. Bernard Parish on Aug. 12 were 21,575 milligrams per kilogram, while oysters caught in Plaquemines Parish on Aug. 3 showed levels at 12,500 mg/kg. Petroleum levels found in fiddler crabs and periwinkles harvested from Terrebonne Parish on Aug. 19 were 6,916 mg/kg.

"The high levels of petroleum hydrocarbons are troubling particularly since many of these species are consumed by people," the LMRK said in a press release. "It is our understanding that there should be no detectable levels of petroleum hydrocarbons in seafood."

LMRK noted that the seafood species appeared "pristine" and did not look or smell suspicious.

The group's sampling also showed that the oil contamination is moving up the food chain, with levels of total petroleum hydrocarbons in seagull guts collected from Terrebonne Parish on Aug. 19 at 23,302 mg/kg. This LMRK chart shows the latest sampling results in full (click on chart for a larger version):

lmrk_seafood_sample_results.pngMeanwhile, a Louisiana law firm representing several environmental and fisheries groups including the United Commercial Fishermen's Association say its own sampling of Gulf seafood contradicts the federal government's claims that it is safe to eat. The tests looked at a range of hydrocarbons for which federal agencies are not testing for, and which can impact liver and kidney function.

"The gap [in testing] is rather serious," toxicologist William Sawyer told New Orleans' Gambit Weekly. "The hydrocarbons ... have almost no volatility. They can't be detected by nose, not even by a bloodhound."

Late last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration closed over 4,200 square miles of Gulf waters to royal red shrimp fishing after some fishermen collected tar balls in their nets and others caught oiled shrimp. The announcement came just days before the White House shipped 2,000 pounds of Gulf shrimp and crabs to serve at holiday parties in the latest effort to boost consumer confidence in the region's seafood.

An estimated 172 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig between April and July.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dubinsky for Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper.)


People Referenced:


re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

We are working hard to test our seafood and properly ensure its safety. It is time for Louisiana businesses to restore our seafood industry, our restaurants and the image of our state. Gulf seafood still has a perception problem but the reality is Gulf Seafood is safe and plentiful.

The FDA operates a mandatory safety program for all seafood products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and Public Health Service Act. This program includes research, inspection, compliance, enforcement, outreach and the development of regulations and industry guidance for seafood.

Current scientific data from this sophisticated testing indicate Gulf Seafood is safe to eat.

Three departments in the State of Louisiana – the Departments of Environmental Quality, the Department of Health and Hospitals, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries participate in seafood safety testing programs.

The FDA is working closely with NOAA put in place strong safety criteria to protect vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, and subsistence fishing communities.

Matthew Berman
Louisiana Seafood Board

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

Thank you for posting this article. The locals (like me) have known for a long time (since the oil spill) that the seafood in the gulf isn't safe, and that comment above from Matthew Berman of the LA Seafood Board is hogwash. Other nonprofit organizations are protesting the FDA and the Seafood Board's testing methods, saying that not only are they not testing for the right chemicals, but that they are not telling the truth. Here is a link to that article. http://www.theind.com/food/7460-louisiana-environmental-groups-protest-fda-seafood-saftey-standards

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

And I have a bridge to sell you to nowhere is you believe that

"the FDA is working closely with NOAA put in place strong safety criteria to protect vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, and subsistence fishing communities."

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

We should know by now that we can not trust the government when they have failed to prevent the environmental disasters that they have been paid through taxes and from which they are mandated to protect us. We have only to look at the generational devastation from DNA damage & lowered IQs form pesticides and still they do little to stop the poisoning. Protect the big bucks seems to be their mantra no matter which party is in office. Again I say this is High Treason and should be referred to as "premeditated random homicide" as they can compute how many will die or be disabled from eating seafood poisoned by oil, they just don't know specifically which of us will die. This fact would get gov. officials condemned for "Crimes Against Humanity" if we participated in the World Court. No wonder our country refuses to join.

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

Thank you for posting your comment about how safe the seafood is to eat, yeah, we trust you and your word, especially after it has been proven time and time again you all were caught in LIES after bold face LIES.

Ask yourself this Matthew Berman - why not feed your children this seafood for the next 10 years, and tell us how that went for you after those years, when the effects really show! After all, remember what the officials at town hall meetings stated on camera(which all can find on youtube) - from the govt official of Gulf Seafood standards spokesman mouth... "why are you all worried about what will happen 20 yrs from now, we'll all be gone anyway, and all you're doing is hurting sales"!

Yeah, that's all we care about... not our families and fellow human beings, the earth and nature! WE ALL KNOW THE TRUTH!

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

You can continue to destroy your economy by complaining about a little petro in your shrimp, I will buy it and take my chances.

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

Don't feed the Trolls!

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

I wish you greed goblins would stop trying to tell us that your poisoned gulf food is OK to eat. There are people around the gulf seriously sick and there is serious contamination of the gulf sea food. But you're so focused on greed that that you don't even care if babys die as long as you make a profit. Your sick with greed and sick with denial and people like you have ruined America. Why don't you go out and get a job instead of a scam and value people over money insead of the reverse. As time goes on and the truth comes out we will hold you accountable for your sick greed and gross insensitivity. When you trash your society with your greed you then will live in a horrible socety but you created it.

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

Everyone is gonna milk the BP cow as long as they can. This was posted by a lawyer for God's sake. The most lying,crooked,crimnal,legal crime lord in the world! BP has more than paid for their screw up. They are still cleaning household garbage from Florida's beaches (garbage put there by floridians) enough already people..........Go to work!!!!!!

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

I would say that BP is far more crooked than any law firm.

I would also like to point out that there is still a thick layer of oil coating the seafloor for thousands and thousands of miles which, when tested, contained BP's thinning agent. BP claimed that this thinning agent was perfectly safe and effective. It killed to men that were exposed to it. I think it's safe to say that the agent wasn't safe or effective; I also think it's safe to say that we can't trust the word of BP or our government, who backs BP for political and economical reasons.
So, to all you trolls, shove it up your ass. I am not a sheep.

re: Is Gulf seafood really safe to eat?

That addresses oil borne contaminants, but, what about the dispersants?