Since last summer, the Florida Department of Agriculture has screened hundreds of seafood samples from the Gulf of Mexico and found Florida seafood products have not been affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Between August 2010 and June 2011, the Agriculture Department’s Division of Food Safety tested nearly 300 seafood samples – including 208 finfish, 38 shrimp, 34 oysters, 15 crabs, two lobsters and one clam for possible oil contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Except for finfish (at least 1.0 pound fillet), samples represent a composite of multiple organisms (10 crabs, 15 oysters, 0.5 lbs shrimp). All findings are well below the FDA’s levels of concern. In addition to PAH analyses, nearly half of the samples have also been screened for the dispersant dioctylsulfosucciante (DOSS). All findings for dispersant are also well below the FDA’s levels of concern. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam described the testing as “aggressive” – telling consumers earlier this spring, “To put Florida seafood back on their plates and back in their diet.”
Testing of Florida seafood will continue over the next three years thanks to a $10 million funding agreement between BP and the state of Florida. The Agriculture Department’s Division of Food Safety will use the BP funds to enhance its laboratory capabilities to conduct seafood inspections in an effort to further restore public confidence in the safety of Gulf of Mexico seafood.
BP is also providing an additional $10 million to the state of Florida for continued seafood marketing over the next three years.
Seafood industry experts agree summer is an important time to inform both consumers and tourists about the safety of Florida seafood. In September, both Pensacola and Destin host large seafood festivals featuring local products. In the past, the Destin festival has attracted more than 30,000 visitors to the area making a large impact on the Destin economy.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently launched a new website with information on Florida seafood testing. Just go to www.myfloridagulfsafe.com/for more details.