Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Gulf Seafood After the Oil Spill: Who Decides How Safe Is Safe?

The shopper stood staring at the large, ice-covered shrimp in the chiller-case of the high-end Seattle grocery.

"Fresh. Wild Gulf Shrimp. Never Frozen. $16.99 lb." read the sign.

"They're my favorites, but are they safe?" the woman asked the fishmonger. Fresh Gulf Shrimp for sale in Seattle grocery store Andrew Schneider Fresh gulf shrimp are for sale in a high-end Seattle grocery store. Although it's been tested thoroughly, questions about its safety remain.

"We couldn't and wouldn't sell them if they weren't," he answered, and quickly added that someone is testing the hell out of everything coming from the gulf.

He was telling the truth.

But several questions remain to be answered for consumers:

* Petroleum contamination is known to cause cancer and brain damage. But how much oil and gas does it take to make seafood dangerous?

* Who's in charge of determining how safe is safe?

* The Food and Drug Administration is supposedly the nation's food protector. What exactly is FDA's role in this process?

* How can you really tell where seafood is coming from? Is there any way to distinguish a gulf shrimp from a Pacific one? 
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