Panel: Seafood from Gulf of Mexico Is Safe to Eat

July 20, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASED AT THE 2010 IFT ANNUAL MEETING & FOOD EXPO


FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Mindy Weinstein
IFT Media Relations
312.604.0231
mweinstein@ift.org


Seafood in the Gulf of Mexico has not shown any signs of contamination in the three months since the oil spill and is safe for human consumption, according to an expert panel at the 2010 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo®.

Inspectors have been rigorously testing fish in the Gulf since the spill, and even seafood in the thick of the area has tested safe, said Mike Voisin, CEO of Motivatit Seafoods in Houma, La. He noted that President Obama has visited the region three times since the spill, and eaten seafood from there each time.

He said that despite assurances from the president and numerous other officials, consumers still are wary of eating seafood from the Gulf. He told of an encounter with someone who refused to eat Louisiana crawfish – even though it’s a freshwater catch. He asked food scientists and other experts to help combat that negative perception and spread the message that the Gulf Coast is safe and open for business.

“It’s a great time to go to the Gulf South. The seafood will be great and the area will be welcoming,” he said. “We have to separate myth from fact.”

The dockside value of Louisiana’s fishery was $37.4 million in May 2009; it was $16.2 million this past May, according to Voisin. The state is No. 1 in the United States in shrimp, crawfish and oysters, and the fishing industry supports 34,078 jobs in coastal Louisiana.

That economic balance has been in danger since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20 off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and sending more than 90 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf. The flow was slowed significantly last Thursday with a cap over the damaged well.

Voisin said photos have led people to believe the spill affected the entire Gulf Coast, but it represents just 300 of the Gulf’s 7,500 miles of shoreline. About 35 percent of the Gulf of Mexico federal waters are closed to fishing.

 “The Gulf of Mexico is 600,000 square miles of water,” he said. “If you had a bathtub and put one drop of oil in it, that’s about how much oil has spilled. It is significant, but the area is very capable of dealing with it. They are working well together, despite what you hear on TV.”

Another panelist, Ron Klein, program manager of the Food Safety & Sanitation Program in the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said the concerted effort to clean up the Gulf is far more organized than when was part of the Exxon Valdez cleanup in 1989.


“The federal regulatory agencies have learned from their mistakes,” he said. “There was no organization during Exxon. There is some political back and forth now, but people are actually working together and identifying problems. I am impressed by how quickly they’re coming together.”

For more information :

Mike Voisin, CEO of Motivatit Seafoods LLC, (985) 868-7191 (Contact Kevin Voisin to arrange)

Ron Klein, program manager of the Food Safety & Sanitation Program in the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, (907) 269-7583.

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About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT’s mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org.