Concerns around Safety of Seafood
Oil related toxins known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are of key concern to consumers, retailers and those in the food industry (http://www.sgs.com/
The likelihood of contamination of seafood depends on the way in which species are exposed to contaminants as well as the nature of the species.
Species that are filter feeders will absorb oil when exposed to it, whether exposed while the oil is dispersing or breaking down. Clams, oysters and molluscs come under this category. Alternately, crustaceans will tend to absorb oil through their diet, including both contaminated plant and animal materials. The risk of absorption will increase for those crustaceans, including shrimp, which are found in shallower waters.
Some species passing through contaminated waters will absorb oil through the gills or gut. For example, predatory finfish will absorb oil and PAHs in this way, as well as through feeding on contaminated species.
In order to clean up the spill, BP is using oil dispersants. Even though these substances generally dissipate within a few days, and are regarded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as being less toxic than oil, it remains unknown as to whether they have any long terms effects on sea life.
Moves Being Made to Ensure Safety
The NOAA has put in place measures to ensure that contaminated seafood products are not sold to consumers. The NOAA has heightened testing measures (http://www.sgs.com/
Besides product testing by the NOAA, steps have also been taken by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to safeguard consumers. Industry producers have been notified that Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans must include measures for contaminants such as PAHs. This requirement comes as part of Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 123 regulation 21, designed to safeguard against the sale and consumption of potentially toxic seafoods. In addition, under 21 CFR 128.28, all shellfish (molluscs) must be tagged, and suppliers are banned from shellfish harvesting within closed areas. Tagging of shellfish enables identification of harvesting dates and locations, and records the license details of the harvester.
Both water and seafood products can be tested for oil and related contaminants. The presence of PAHs and oil can be detected using instrumentation including both Liquid Chromatograph coupled with a Mass Spectrometer (LC/MS), and Gas Chromatograph coupled with Mass Spectormeter (GC/MS).
SGS Consumer Testing Services
Name of contact person: James Cook
Position of contact person: Food Safety Technologist, SGS U.S. Testing Company, Inc.
Full postal address - 291 Fairfield Avenue, Fairfield, NJ 07004, USA
Phone number: +1 973 461 1493
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Seafood product and water analysis are offered as part of SGS Food Safety Services.
# # #
The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With 59,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,000 offices and laboratories around the world.