Strong opinions, weakly held

It’s safe to eat Gulf seafood

The Daily Beast commissioned its own tests on Gulf seafood to determine whether it is contaminated by the BP oil spill or the byproducts of its cleanup:

So is the caution among America’s seafood consumers justified? Seeking a definitive answer to the question, The Daily Beast commissioned an independent lab, one of a handful certified to measure chemical dispersants, to analyze a cross-section of Gulf seafood—red grouper, jumbo shrimp, and crabmeat—for both oil and the dispersants that have prompted almost as much alarm as the petroleum itself. To further sharpen the test, we also performed similar tests on samples of those three types of seafood culled from the Atlantic Ocean.

The results? Immaculate. As with the Atlantic samples, all of the Gulf seafood contained either undetectable or incredibly minute (well below everyday federal thresholds) levels of petroleum hydrocarbons or dispersants.

I’m posting this mainly as a public service. The environmental crisis bad enough, people shouldn’t compound it with misplaced fears. It’s worth noting (as you’ll read in the article), the Daily Beast’s tests were conducted as a spot check to confirm or refute the government’s reports. They didn’t test enough seafood to reach a conclusion on food safety on their own.


  1. I remain unconvinced. Apologies if you’ve heard/know about any of this already:

    Here are my arguments:

    1. Grouper, shrimp and crab are bottom feeders and they don’t migrate. The fact that these creatures contain no oil or dispersants means no oil or dispersant has yet gotten into their feeding grounds. Oil will kill them flat-out, and dispersant breaks oil up small enough to be ingested. No oil in the shrimp means they’re not rooting around in oil on the bottom of the Gulf. They’re sourced from a ‘clean’ area. For now.

    2. An uncontaminated shrimp today does not guarantee one tomorrow. Authorities will be forced to frequently test for years – even after that ‘plume’ settles. The fish runs didn’t completely collapse from Exxon Valdez until about four years after the spill itself. Ironically, many of the fishermen who were shut down by Valdez moved to the Gulf. Net-net, it’s years too early to sound the ‘all clear.’

    I have to say, I’m surprised TDB didn’t post the actual test documentation … or did I miss the link? Where are the numbers, the risk assessments? And to be thorough, where are the pre-spill stats versus the post-spill stats to compare?

  2. Definitely true that seafood stocks that are safe to fish from right now may not be safe next month or next year. Nobody really knows how this is all going to play out.

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