Seafood safety testing continues three years after oil spill

Published: Aug. 20, 2013 at 9:28 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 at 9:54 AM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Since the BP oil spill three years ago, the Department of Marine Resources has tested 622 seafood samples. And all of those samples have been shown "safe" to eat. The Commission on Marine Resources heard an update on the seafood safety program at Tuesday's monthly meeting.

Just minutes after he began fishing, Alex Chapman landed a nice sized speckled trout. And this Gulfport college student has no qualms about having this trout for dinner. Despite worries voiced by some after the oil spill, he's never stopped eating gulf seafood.

"So far, I haven't gotten sick. I'm sure, I've built up an immunity to it," he said. But he says he still loves eating gulf seafood. "Who doesn't?" he asked.

Fishing partners Anthony Moore and Lawrence Grimm don't think twice about eating local seafood. The white trout and ground mullet in their bucket will certainly be headed to the table.

"I was hoping everything was still okay. I've still been eating them," said Moore, "I think it's safe now."

These fishermen aren't that familiar with the formal seafood safety testing that's been ongoing since the spill.

"I don't know if they're testing them or what," said Grimm.

"We usually sample anywhere between eight, ten or twelve samples per month," Joe Jewel told the Commission on Marine Resources.

Jewel updated commissioners on the ongoing seafood testing program. Six hundred twenty two seafood samples have been tested since the oil spill, for various chemicals found in both oil and dispersant.

"To date, no sample collected by the DMR or DEQ has tested above FDA levels of concern," Jewel told commissioners.

Each seafood sample that's sent to the lab for testing is between one quarter and one half pound. And they not only test shrimp, crabs and oysters, they also test nearly two dozen varieties of finfish.

The safety assurance from such testing means Alex Chapman can feel a little more at ease while enjoying that speckled trout for dinner.

The number of seafood samples tested is getting lower since the oil spill. In 2010, the year the oil spill happened, 340 seafood samples were tested for safety.

Last year, 106 samples were tested.

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