Latest Tests of Gulf Fish Surveys Find No Negative Impact on Seafood Quality

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Jan. 19 that analyses of the second and third round of toxicology survey results from Gulf water, marine species, and sediment samples show no elevated toxins of bacteria from recent hurricanes.

Agency scientists have been collecting samples since two weeks after Katrina made landfall. The initial samples contained no elevated toxins or bacteria. The latest analyses also found no cause for concern.

The samples were tested for toxins that might have been released into the marine ecosystem after hurricane flooding, such as PCBs, pesticides, and fire retardants. All samples show the levels of these compounds are well below federal guidelines for safe seafood consumption, officials said.

The samples also were tested for potential bacteria such as E. coli, which is associated with human fecal contamination. None of the samples harbored the bacteria, although other vibrio bacteria that normally inhabit the marine environment were found, officials said.

Dr. Steven Murawski, director of scientific programs at NOAA Fisheries Service, said that the presence of vibrio bacteria is expected, and the FDA recommends that fish, crab and shrimp be thoroughly cooked prior to consumption.

The survey results are consistent with similar findings recently announced by the Food and Drug Administration, EPA, and the states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, which concluded Gulf seafood was deemed safe for human consumption. NOAA continues its sampling program in the Gulf of Mexico to detect potential trends or changes that might occur over time.

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA Fisheries: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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