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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Update


Multi-government agency response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other Federal agencies, and several state authorities in the regions affected by the recent oil spill. FDA continues to monitor this developing situation and its potential impact on the safety of seafood harvested from the area.


April 30, 2010 Update:

Although crude oil has the potential to taint seafood with flavors and odors caused by exposure to hydrocarbon chemicals, the public should not be concerned about the safety of seafood in the stores at this time.

Earlier this week, the state of Louisiana opened some commercial zones to shrimping ahead of the regular season, to allow fishermen to harvest before the oil reached those zones; however, the State has since closed some of those zones to shrimping based on the location and movement of the oil spill.

At sunset on April 30, 2010, the state of Louisiana closed the molluscan shellfish beds in growing areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 to harvest. The closure is a precautionary measure taken because of the possible adverse environmental effects of the oil spill in the area. FDA and the NOAA Fisheries Service will continue to monitor the situation and notify the public if any problem is detected with seafood from this area of the country.


How are commercial fisheries regulated to ensure the seafood is safe?

FDA operates 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. The FDA program includes research, inspection, compliance, enforcement, outreach and the development of regulations and industry guidance.

NOAA has the authority to close Federal waters to commercial fishing and states have the authority to close waters within the state 3-mile limit. FDA is working with both NOAA and the states to monitor the situation and ensure that appropriate closures are in place. These steps should prevent unsafe seafood from reaching the market. If, despite these steps, adulterated seafood is found on the market, both FDA and the states have the authority to seize such product to prevent adulteration.


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