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How Will the BP Oil Spill Impact Our Food?

Unused fishing boats in Biloxi, Mississippi
Unused fishing boats in Biloxi, Mississippi

The BP oil spill has devastated beaches and fisheries along the Gulf coast. What does this disaster mean for our food supply?

The answer really depends on who you ask.

FDA and NOAA

According to FDA:

Fish and shellfish harvested from areas unaffected by the closures are considered safe to eat. NOAA is closely monitoring the surface and subsurface movement of petroleum and is expanding the closed area as needed. The states are also closing harvest waters under their jurisdiction as needed. There is no reason to believe that any contaminated product has made its way to the market.

The closures they refer to fisheries that NOAA has deemed unsafe and closed. You can keep up with which fisheries are closed on the NOAA site. Here’s a map showing closures as of July 13th:

The star in the middle is the Deepwater Horizon, and the red lines indicate closure boundaries. It looks like, for now, there are some fisheries that FDA considers safe.

FDA also claims that “dispersants being used to combat the oil spill do not accumulate in seafood and therefore there is no public health concern from them due to seafood consumption.”

Up next: A look at what researchers are saying.

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