Food

Worries Rise About the Safety of Seafood from the Gulf and Beyond

Only the hopelessly optimistic can believe the livelihoods of Gulf Coast fishing communities will return any time soon.

For generations families have earned their livings by harvesting the Gulf's abundance of oysters, shrimp and fresh fish. Their livelihoods are now devastated by BP's criminally reckless and predictably disastrous business practices. Only the hopelessly optimistic can believe those livelihoods will return any time soon.

Americans are almost universally aware of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the vast majority is understandably worried about the safety of Gulf seafood, according to a consumer confidence poll conducted by The Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of those surveyed for the study said they were aware of the spill. Eighty-five percent (85%) said they are following news about it closely or have heard a lot about it.

"Given the amount of news coverage the oil spill has received, these results may not be surprising, but it does show that consumers are connecting the event to food safety," said Dennis Degeneffe, a research fellow at The Food Industry Center.

The Center's poll indicates that harvesters living along the Gulf coast won't be alone when it comes to losing income. When asked how the oil spill will affect their consumption of seafood, 54% of respondents said it will have some impact. Forty-four percent (44%) of that group said they no longer eat seafood that comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Another 31% said they will eat less seafood regardless of where it comes from.

Largest Gulf Spill Facing Hurricane Season

Using the high-end numbers of the latest government estimates, 140 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf since BP's Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20th, killing eleven platform workers. That makes it the largest oil spill that has ever struck the Gulf of Mexico, with a flow rate roughly equivalent to an Exxon Valdez disaster every week. There is no definitive date for when the flow will be curtailed.

Hurricane Alex made landfall near the Texas-Mexico border late Wednesday and early Thursday morning and has hampered cleanup efforts. Meteorologist Joe Bastardi of Accuweather.com forecasts 18 to 21 named storms for the hurricane season running from June 1st until November 30th. Only five years in the 160 years of records had 18 or more storms in a season.

"The hurricane season should have several hits on the U.S. coast from July through September, mainly in the Southeast and Gulf," said Bastardi.


 

Jeff Deasy is president of American Feast.