As we check in on the Gulf seafood scare one of ACSH s Top Health Scares of 2011 the FDA continues to reassure the public that Gulf seafood is indeed safe to eat. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there have been lingering concerns among the public that seafood from the Gulf coast may be contaminated by oil and chemicals used to diffuse the oil, known as dispersants. But as Deputy Commissioner of Foods Michael Taylor stated in the agency s blog last week, A great deal of effort was invested after the Gulf spill so that we could provide an answer to one question: Is Gulf seafood safe to eat? Yes, Gulf seafood is safe to eat, and it is safe to eat for everyone.
Indeed, the FDA has tested over 10,000 samples of seafood since the spill, and almost all were free of contaminants. They specifically checked for the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which some allege may cause cancer if ingested in high amounts. But even in samples where any PAHs were detected, the levels were 100 to 1,000 times below any level of concern. Yet despite this assurance, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) put out a report last October, claiming that the FDA was not properly assessing risk from PAHs; the group suggested that Gulf seafood could be toxic, thus doing what they do best needlessly frightening consumers.
Fortunately, the FDA continues to counter this fear-mongering. As ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross notes, Although the NRDC claimed that the FDA s analysis was flawed, every objective scientific organization argues that it is indeed accurate.