Watering Down Seafood Safety


First it was the “sniff test” that had people wondering if the government knew what it was doing regarding testing Gulf seafood – now it’s consumption levels. The Press-Register newspaper in Mobile, which has been among the most skeptical news outlets in the context of the spill, is reporting: “…a coalition of environmental groups accuses the U.S Food and Drug Administration of failing to accurately estimate how much seafood coastal residents eat when setting safe levels for oil-related contaminants in fish, shrimp and crabs.”

We’ve brought this up before as an example of how the FDA can game the system. You want to control the outcome of an experiment? Then control the factors going into the equation.

Questions about seafood testing are nothing new (well, not here anyway), but I should note that they are going mainstream just as the “Mission Accomplished” crowd is preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars assuring people that Gulf seafood is safe. Who are you going to believe, a slick ad or the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups issuing warnings?

The Press-Register has become a champion among those worried about seafood safety and has previously reported that FDA standards set after the BP spill allow higher levels of oil contaminants to be present in seafood than has been allowed after other major spills.

It’s also reported that, based on an FDA assumption, people eat FOUR times more fish than other types of seafood – and the agency standards allow shrimp, crabs and oysters destined for public consumption to be FOUR times more contaminated than fish. As mentioned, many experts believe the FDA assumption about how much seafood Gulf residents consume is far too low.

Those reports are shocking and should prompt swift government action. But this is the same Obama Administration that went along with low-ball spill estimates, put spin on NOAA reports and even had to effectively apologize to scientists after spinning their results. To admit that it’s now low-balling seafood contamination, might finally be the “tipping point” to really show that the BP spill is this Administration’s Katrina moment.

Read the Press-Register report here: http://blog.al.com/live/2010/12/fda_not_considering_gulf_seafo.html

© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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