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. FDA works closely with NOAA and the states whenever commercial fishing waters are closed for public health reasons and again when they are reopened to harvest.
Below is information from FDA concerning the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.
When the Gulf of Mexico oil spill began in 2010, the FDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Gulf coast states took unprecedented steps to ensure that the seafood harvested from the Gulf was safe -- first by closing areas exposed to the oil and then by establishing a reopening protocol designed to ensure that seafood from any given area was safe from harmful oil and dispersant residues before the area reopened to harvest.
At the height of the oil spill more than one third of the federal waters in the Gulf and much of the state waters were closed to harvesting. After the oil began to dissipate, the states and federal government conducted extensive sampling and testing of fish, shrimp, crabs, and oysters. Only after all samples collected from an area passed both sensory and chemical testing, was a harvest area allowed to reopen.
All of the federal waters and all but a few state harvest waters have reopened and the tests have shown that the seafood from these reopened areas is as safe to eat as it was before the oil spill.
Still, just to be sure that we did not miss anything, federal and state officials continue to collect and test seafood from the Gulf. The seafood we have collected continues to be free from harmful oil and dispersant residues.
Call 1-888-INFO-FDA with questions or concerns about seafood or to report any seafood you have purchased that you suspect of being contaminated with oil.
- Questions and Answers - frequently asked questions about the oil spill, harvest water closures, and water reopenings.
- Consumers Can Be Confident in the Safety of Gulf Seafood - an Op-Ed written by officials from FDA, NOAA, and Louisiana.
- Overview of Testing Protocol to Re-open Harvest Waters that were Closed in Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
- Protocol for Interpretation and Use of Sensory Testing and Analytical Chemistry Results for Re-Opening Oil-Impacted Areas Closed to Seafood Harvesting Due to The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
- Assessing the Impact of the Oil Spill - includes surveillance samples, background on testing methods, and letters and memos from FDA