Louisiana seafood is safe, experts say

Richard Bogren, Thomas, Glenn, Reames, Elizabeth S.  |  1/4/2011 1:12:22 AM

News Release Distributed 06/21/10

Louisiana seafood is safe, and consumers don’t need to worry about the safety of eating Louisiana seafood following the oil spill, according to experts with the LSU AgCenter.

“All Louisiana seafood sold in retail stores and supermarkets, as well as in restaurants, is safe to eat,” said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. “Fishing areas affected by the spill are closed to fishing and oyster collection. Retailers obtain their seafood from nonclosed waters. Seafood that is determined to be unsafe will not be allowed on the market by regulatory agencies.”

Reames cited daily testing of seafood by local, state and federal experts and scientists to check for oil on the water surface and on seafood meat.

According to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, chemical tests of 600 samples of Gulf seafood looking for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) showed pristine levels. Dr. Steven Murawski, chief science advisor for NOAA Fisheries Service, said sensory analysis is being done at the NOAA lab in Pascagoula, Miss., and the chemical analysis is being conducted in Washington State.

He reported that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico was cleaner and less contaminated than typical seafood samples from some other coasts, primarily because the areas sampled in the Gulf are far from any large population centers and major cities where there is more environmental contamination with PAHs.

In addition, recent Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries tests on seafood samples from inshore waters of Louisiana have shown levels to be below detection limits.

Guidelines for limits of PAH exposure to food safety have been calculated based on past oil spill occurrences and vary by the type of seafood.

“PAHs are found throughout our environment, including our food supply, both raw and cooked,” Reames said. “There have been no recorded illnesses due to PAH exposure at most levels encountered in our environment or in other foods, but elevated levels will require controls to prevent excessive exposure.”

Rick Bogren

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