A Sense of Smell
Food Safety News reports on how federal officials plan on keeping petroleum-tainted fish off our plates following the Gulf oil spill.
Chemical testing and a sense of smell work best.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) chief quality officer, Steven Wilson, says a sense of smell seems to be even more sensitive to contamination than using chemicals.
"The nose is very sensitive," says Wilson. Chemical and sensory testing is used together to determine if seafood can be consumed safely.
The chemical analysis can be completed by NOAA-chosen labs in Seattle with experience in testing for petroleum in our seafood while another NOAA testing lab at Gloucestor, Massachusetts is a state-of-the-art sensory testing lab to perform sensory analysis.
NOAA still has no timetable for seafood inspections but will only begin when the spill is contained, which hasn’t happened yet. The seafood must also pass a quality test, meaning that the sea waters must be clear of pil.
“There is no point in testing product that’s swimming around in oil,” Wilson says to Food Safety News.
WPEC TV reports that Florida seafood currently being harvested is safe based on samples taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Current harvests include grouper, snapper, mullet, blue crab, golden tilefish, oysters, flounder, shrimp and sea trout. Stone crabs are still in season until mid May and are also unaffected.
In 2008, the fishing industry sold $125 million worth of seafood, which does not include the retail or wholesale value. Louisiana’s seafood restaurants are the largest private-sector employer of 140,000 workers and a $5 billion economic impact, reports Seattle Times.
The American Sportfishing Association says recreational fishing supports 300,000 jobs and brings $41 billion to the Gulf economy.
NOAA is restricting commercial and recreational fishing from Louisiana to water off Pensacola Bay including 6,800 square miles of the Gulf remain closed to fishing. #