Monday, October 17, 2011

Seafood From the Gulf Might Not be Safe during Pregnancy

Despite a government report stating that seafood fished out of the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill was safe to eat, one environmental group is calling the food unsafe for consumption by pregnant women and children. Cancer-causing compounds have been found in large amounts in samples of seafood from the Gulf.

The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) contends that the criteria used by the Food and Drug Administration for measuring the level of carcinogens in seafood is off by a factor of 10,000. They are using their recent report to encourage the FDA to reevaluate the stated safe level of hydrocarbon consumption among pregnant women and young children. The FDA, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officials are standing by their initial statements that food currently fished out of designated areas of the gulf is safe to eat. "We put in an extensive program of sampling, at that time and since then, and the results have consistently been 100 to 1,000 times below our levels of concern," says Doug Karas of the FDA. An NRDC representative reports that the FDA calculated that 123,000 micrograms of napthalene (a component of coal tar, used in mothballs) per kilogram of shrimp was safe for consumption. NRDC believes that the acceptable level should be lower than 5.91 micrograms to safeguard pregnant women and young children from carcinogens. The group spent over a year searching for more information about the FDA's data used to deem the food safe for consumption under the Freedom of Information Act. They found that the EPA also tried to advise the FDA against setting such a high level as safe for consumption.

Naturally, many pundits are decrying the report as unnecessarily alarmist but the numbers still might convince people to avoid eating seafood from the Gulf.

Do you eat seafood from the Gulf?

Study: FDA seafood standards flawed [USAToday]
FDA Allowed Unsafe Seafood Onto Market After BP Oil Spill Disaster [Medical News Today]