With so much on our plates currently wirh regard to food safety (E. coli O145 outbreak in Michigan, Ohio, and New York; ongoing raw milk debate; and pending debate on S 510 "Food Safety Modernization Act"), even seemingly disparate current events, like the oil spill, matter to us in the outbreak and food safety business. Today, the FDA commented on the safety of seafood coming from the Gulf:
Although crude oil has the potential to taint seafood with flavors and odors caused by exposure to hydrocarbon chemicals, the public should not be concerned about the safety of seafood in the stores at this time.
Earlier this week, the state of Louisiana opened some commercial zones to shrimping ahead of the regular season, to allow fishermen to harvest before the oil reached those zones; however, the State has since closed some of those zones to shrimping based on the location and movement of the oil spill.
Not that the impending environmental effects of the oil spill need to be dressed up by a food safety lawyer, it appears that, unfortunately, this is spawning season for many seafood species native to the gulf. The long term effects on species population and lifecycle are not yet known. Whatever the ultimate level of devastation, the spill will deeply gouge the 3 billion dollar a year fishing industry in the Gulf, which was continuing to recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
At sunset on April 30, 2010, the state of Louisiana closed the molluscan shellfish beds in growing areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 to harvest. The closure is a precautionary measure taken because of the possible adverse environmental effects of the oil spill in the area. FDA and the NOAA Fisheries Service will continue to monitor the situation and notify the public if any problem is detected with seafood from this area of the country.