ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – When you can’t get oil seafood, you have to make it yourself. That’s what members of the Alabama Cooperative Extension office were doing Sunday in Orange Beach. They were preparing fish samples for a training session for charter boat captains and deckhands. It’s sensory training. It’s better known as the “smell test” or “sniff test.”
“We just want to make sure that we know what we’re going out there separating the good from the bad making sure that making sure that folks come fishing with us are safe,” says charter boat captain Al Keahl. Some may dismiss the so-called smell test – but researchers say the human nose is a powerful tool.
“That even at 10 parts per million which is not going to be harmful for anyone to consume you can still smell that oil in that fish,” says food scientist Jean Weese. While the “smell test” has been getting a lot of attention in recent weeks, it’s not the only method scientists use to determine whether or not waters are safe to reopen
“Nobody is opening waters based on the smell test or sniff test, that is simply another step of assurance,” says Auburn University Assistant Professor Bill Walton. The smell test just happens to be the most cost effective method of determining seafood safety. It’s used in conjunction with chemical tests – which can be very expensive. Walton says, if fish samples fail the smell test, there’s no need to do chemical tests and water where that sample was taken stays closed. If it passes, chemical tests help determine if there’s really oil present. These captains say this training will help put questions and concerns at ease.