Gulf Coast Seafood Inspections Expanded

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Federal regulators are inspecting seafood from the Gulf Coast and companies are documenting their sources to make sure that no oil-tainted fish makes it to your dinner table.

To make sure that contaminants haven’t traveled beyond closed areas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Food and Drug Administration are collecting and testing fish and shellfish in areas where the still-expanding Gulf Coast oil spill hasn’t yet reached.

If contaminants are found, the agency will consider more area closures to commercial and recreational fishing, according to an FDA press release.

The NOAA first began closing areas affected by the spill on May 2, and the affected areas continue to change. BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20.

At the same time, the FDA is working to help seafood companies review and monitor fish sources to make sure that no fish from unknown areas get into supermarkets and restaurants. Harvesters catch the fish, which are then sent to processors before entering the food supply.

Oysters, shrimp and crabs will be inspected first since the shellfish are more likely to hold on to their contaminants compared with fin fish which metabolize them faster, the FDA says.

Consumers and fishermen with seafood safety concerns can report potential contamination directly to the FDA by calling (888) INFO-FDA.

Small business owners and residents along the Gulf Coast have already been hit hard by the oil spill. And while BP (Stock Quote: BP) has paid out $1.6 billion so far in claims related to the spill, the company is still being criticized for still-unpaid claims, as MainStreet previously reported.

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