WASHINGTON, DC (FDA) — For up-to-date information regarding the Gulf Coast seafood industry, visit the FDA's Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill Update page.
A: Fish and shellfish harvested from areas unaffected by the closures are considered safe to eat. NOAA is closely monitoring the surface and subsurface movement of petroleum and is expanding the closed area as needed. The states are also closing harvest waters under their jurisdiction as needed. There is no reason to believe that any contaminated product has made its way to the market. Closing harvest waters which could be exposed to the oil is the best way to protect the public from potentially contaminated seafood, because it keeps the product from entering the food supply.
Closing harvest waters which could be exposed to the oil is the best way to protect the public from potentially contaminated seafood, because it keeps the product from entering the food supply.
Q: How will the Federal government and the states determine that harvest waters closed due to contamination from the oil spill can be re-opened?
A: FDA and NOAA have agreed on a protocol to determine when closed federal harvest waters can be re-opened. Both agencies feel confident that when this protocol is followed, the seafood harvested from the re-opened areas will be fit for consumption. Under the protocol harvest waters will not re-open until oil from the spill is no longer present and the seafood samples from the area successfully pass both sensory analysis by trained experts and a chemical analysis to ensure there are no harmful oil residues. FDA and NOAA have shared this protocol with the states and encouraged them to use it to affirm the safety of state harvest waters prior to re-opening.
Q: How will FDA assure the safety of seafood after the fishing and shellfish harvesting areas are allowed to re-open?
A: Federal and state waters closed due to contamination from the oil spill will only be re-opened for harvesting after it has been determined that seafood harvested from those areas is safe for consumption. The FDA oversees a mandatory safety program for all fish and fishery products under the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, The Public Health Service Act, and related regulations. If adulterated seafood is found on the market, both the FDA and the states have the authority to seize the product and remove it from the food supply.
Q: Who is responsible for the closing of federal and state harvest waters?
A: NOAA has the authority to close federal waters to commercial fishing and states have the authority to close waters within their jurisdiction. The FDA works closely with NOAA and the states whenever commercial fishing waters are closed for public health reasons and again when they are re-opened to harvest.
Q: How can I find out about closures?
A: NOAA and the Coast Guard are monitoring closed areas to ensure that fisherman do not fish within them. To view a current map of the areas closed to fishing (reviewed and updated daily), go to Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill.
Q: What affect will the oil dispersant have on seafood in the area?
A: Available information indicates that the dispersants being used to combat the oil spill do not accumulate in seafood and therefore there is no public health concern from them due to seafood consumption. FDA will continue to monitor the use of dispersants and evaluate any changes in their use or composition.