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Aug 3, 2010 9:15 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

FDA declares Gulf seafood safe to eat

Seafood from some parts of the oil-fouled Gulf of Mexico has been declared safe to eat by the government, based in part on human smell tests. But even some Gulf fishermen are questioning whether the fish and shrimp are OK to feed to their own families.

Some are turning up their noses at the smell tests - in which inspectors sniff seafood for chemical odors - and are demanding more thorough testing to reassure the buying public about the effects of the oil and the dispersants used to fight the slick.

"If I put fish in a barrel of water and poured oil and Dove detergent over that, and mixed it up, would you eat that fish?" asked Rusty Graybill, an oysterman and shrimp and crab fisherman from Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish. "I wouldn't feed it to you or my family. I'm afraid someone's going to get sick."

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..Now that a temporary cap has kept oil from spewing out of BP's blown-out well for more than two weeks, state-controlled fishing areas in Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi have slowly begun to reopen.

Despite splotches of chocolate-colored crude that wash up almost daily on protective boom and in marshes east of the Mississippi River, Louisiana has reopened those waters to fishing for such finfish varieties as redfish, mullet and speckled trout, and will allow shrimping when the season begins in two weeks. Oysters and blue crabs, which retain contaminants longer, are still off-limits.

Smell tests on dozens of specimens from the area revealed barely detectable traces of toxic substances, the Food and Drug Administration said. The state of Louisiana has also been testing fish tissue for oil since May and has not found it in amounts considered unsafe.

In Mississippi on Monday, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said the government is "confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from the waters being opened today is safe and that Gulf seafood lovers everywhere can be confident eating and enjoying the fish and shrimp that will be coming out of this area."

 

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