Is Gulf Seafood Safe to Eat?

George Washington's picture


The FDA and NOAA say that Gulf seafood is fine. President Obama ate a fish taco yesterday made with Gulf fish.

So does that mean Gulf seafood is safe to eat?

I had hoped
- for the sake of the Gulf fishermen and the entire Gulf economy - that
the answer was yes. But after digging a bit, I'm not so sure.

For example, Local fishermen don't trust the safety of the fish:



here are calling it 'Voodoo seafood' because we are all cursed," said
Bill Thompson of Long Beach, Mississippi. Fishermen from Texas,
Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida gathered in Biloxi last
week to discuss their fears.


"We do not think it is safe but the
state officials say it is. Who do you trust? The people that know these
waters or the government?" Thompson added.

Neither do local shrimpers:




Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that of all the samples of
seafood that have been tested since the oil spill, none have shown
evidence of contamination.


While some in the coastal seafood industry agree with these assessments, a majority seem to view the news with a sense of betrayal.


cleanup isn't even close to being done," said Karen Hopkins of Dean
Blanchard Seafood, which accounts for about 11 percent of the U.S.
shrimp supply, on the barrier island of Grand Isle.


"The last
thing I want to do is scare anyone away from the seafood down here,"
said Dawn Nunez, standing at the counter of the shrimp wholesale
business and deli she owns in the tiny fishing town of Hopedale. "But if I’m not eating it or feeding it to my children, I can’t advise anyone else to eat it either."

Indeed, crabs and crab larvae have been discovered filled with oil. See this and this.

As AOL news notes:

contamination is known to cause cancer and brain damage. But how much
oil and gas does it take to make seafood dangerous?

low doses of even the strongest poison won't cause health problems, so
it is all a question of how much oil - if any - is making it into Gulf
seafood. But as the AOL News article notes, BP might be lobbying to
raise the amount of oil in seafood which is considered safe.

And its not just oil.

As Fox 8 in New Orleans reports:


at Tulane say it appears they've detected a Corexit sort of fingerprint
in the orange blobs found lodged in the bodies of tiny blue crab larvae
collected from marshes that stretch from Texas to Florida.

of New Orleans’ Martin O’Connell, Ph.D] said O'Connell said most
components of oil won't bio-accumulate, meaning oil likely won't reach
the food chain. As for Corexit, he said, "no one really knows." "If
you're a small fish and you eat 1,000 of these small crab larvae and
all of them have oil or Corexit droplets in them they could get into
the fish.. that little fish could be eaten and so on and so on," said

Sky News notes:

George Crozier] director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is worried about
the potential build up of some chemical compounds in the food chain.


is particularly concerned about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons… “If
we do see over the years fish accumulating PAH, it will almost
certainly be attributable to Deepwater Horizon… I can imagine 10 or 20
years from now there will be the same kind of health warnings about
say, grouper or snapper from the centre of the Gulf, that apply to tuna
from all over the world, for mercury.”

NOAA admitted in a Congressional hearing that seafood isn't being tested for dispersants, even though they may bioaccumulate.

It is well-known that the EPA buried the concerns of its own toxicologists about the application of Corexit. As the Guardian points out:

Obama administration is facing internal dissent from its scientists for
approving the use of huge quantities of chemical dispersants to tackle
the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Guardian has learned.


Ruch, the executive director of the whistleblower support group Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said he had heard from five
[EPA] scientists and two other officials who had expressed concerns to
their superiors about the use of dispersants.

"There was one
toxicologist who was very concerned about the underwater application
particularly," he said. "The concern was the agency appeared to be
flying blind and not consulting its own specialists and even the
literature that was available."

Veterans of the Exxon Valdez
spill questioned the wisdom of trying to break up the oil in the deep
water at the same time as trying to skim it on the surface. Other EPA
experts raised alarm about the effect of dispersants on seafood.

said EPA experts were being excluded from decision-making on the spill.
"Other than a few people in the united command, there is no involvement
from the rest of the agency," he said. EPA scientists would not go
public for fear of retaliation, he added.

scientists also criticised the EPA for claiming that the combination of
oil and dispersants posed no greater danger to marine life on its own.

Wednesday, a toxicologist from Texas Tech University is scheduled to
tell a Senate hearing that the unprecedented use of dispersants
"created an eco-toxicological experiment".


"The bottom line is
that a lot of oil is still at sea dispersed in the water column," said
Ron Kendall. "It's a big ecological question as to how this will
ultimately unfold." Previous studies, including a 400-page study by the
National Academy of Sciences, have warned that the combination of oil
and dispersants is more toxic than oil on its own, because the
chemicals break down cell walls, making organisms more susceptible to


The EPA issued a report on Monday, based on a study of
how much of the mixture was needed to kill a species of shrimp and
small fish, just two of the 15,000 types of marine life in the Gulf.
The EPA test did not address medium- or long-term effects, or reports
last week that dispersants were discovered in the larvae of blue crab,
entering the food chain.




Hugh Kaufman, a senior EPA policy analyst, dismissed the tests as little more than a PR stunt.

But isn't this all old news, because the Corexit has already broken down in the environment? Maybe. But as the Press-Register noted on August 6th:

The stained, brown water seen washing up in pockets along Alabama beaches for the last two weeks appears to contain the dispersant widely used on oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, according to a preliminary analysis.


Overton, a Louisiana State University chemist… [who] is analyzing oil
samples for the federal government… said… “indications [are] that there
was a dispersant signal in the sample.” … [T]he signal was similar to a Corexit sample.


Perry, a scientist at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs
[said]… “It looks like they found [COrexit],” Perry said of work by
research colleagues at Tulane University [researching crab larvae]…
“For a droplet to be that small, it has to be dispersed oil… It’s
supposed to biodegrade rapidly. It’s supposed to disappear in days, not
weeks, but that may not be happening.”

addition, some claim that even the chemicals left behind when Corexit
breaks down are toxic, although I have seen no scientific evidence one
way or the other.

The bottom line is that some Gulf seafood is probably safe and other
Gulf seafood is probably not very safe, depending on where it swam in
relation to the oil plumes and a host of other factors. But since the
government is being close-lipped about the details of its test results
- and isn't even testing for dispersants - it is hard to know whether a
particular piece of seafood is safe or not.

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covert's picture

does this mean that Obama will die from food poisoning? will he be a victim of his own policies?

bubba1231's picture

I come to zerohedge because it is nice to get a different perspective.  But the whole credibility of the site and its viewers is destroyed by fabricating lies about the gulf oil spill.  And those of you who don't think Mr. GW has an economic interest in this you are extremely naive.  The desparation is palpable.  He is clearly getting destroyed on the short end.  His hero Mr. Simmons committed securities fraud in my opinion and what he is doing is borderline libel.  Either way it is insanse.

LMAO's picture

"I come to zerohedge because it is nice to get a different perspective"


You Sir are not worthy!


Stick to your main stream media and don't hit yourself over the head trying to grasp the concept of perspective.




fredquimby's picture

No it is not safe. How can it possibly be safe?

Bazza must be mad. If he isn't now, he will be when the Corexit kicks in....

blunderdog's picture

Well, on the bright side, IF there is a serious health risk from GOM seafood, it'll help us save long-term on healthcare when people are dropping dead in their mid-sixties rather than hanging around until their early eighties.

Just like the good old days.

Oh regional Indian's picture

May I suggest an excellent alternative?


Simple cure to half the world's ills. No salmonella, no toxins, no cruelty, no animal "farm", no hormone mad cowboys with boobs, no hog containment operations, no run-off....

Read "My year in Meats"

The list goes on and on. PETA and the rest aside,

Just think of the possibilities. For a moment....


RichardP's picture

Vegetarianism ... No salmonella ...

People should take you seriously??

Vegetables and fruits are quite capable of carrying salmonella.  These links are just two of a number of warnings recently.

The Rock's picture

+1  Do "organic" vegetables fix that?

1fortheroad's picture

A Tale of Two Wells (Dedicated to Matt Simmons R.I.P.)

snakehead's picture

That's what it is, a tale.  

tempo's picture

Matt Simmons theory is that there are two wells.  One is still leaking and one that we are watching on TV that is now unstable.  We know the deepwater horizon rig sank and 11 people were kill.  That transocean rig  was  permitted to drill the Mercardo well and it is now unstable waiting to be killed by the relief well.   It would be vitually impossible to hid the drilling and blowout of another well.  So I don't think there are two BOPs.  However there may be other leaks in the area caused by the Mercardo blowout.

tempo's picture

Love my seafood with corexit tarder sauce.  At Saturday 2:00 pm briefing, incident commander Allen said BP must complete the relief well for blowout well to be considered dead.  However, he added that completing the relief well DEPENDS ON RESULTS OF CONTINUING BP PRESSURE TESTS AND STABILITY OF THE WELL!!!!.    What going on in the Marcardo well???

business as stusual's picture

GW or anyone else for that matter, I have been reading that there are actually two well heads at the DWH site. Is this true? There are a variety of youtube videos on this. Is this tinfoil hat material or is it verifiable? Any input would be appreciated.

snakehead's picture

Where's the oil from the "other" well?

Defenestrate's picture

We stayed at a beach bungalow near Tampa last year. It was wonderful. Thought about returning, but not when one of the main activities is watching my son play in the water. Very telling that Obama didn't actually go in on the Gulf side.

Frank Owen's picture

GW, thanks for the laugh - the title i mean. Is Gulf Seafood Safe to Eat? HAHAHAAHA

Bear's picture

Safe, fresh fish are you sure Obama didn't have Gulf of Tonkin "Gulf Fish" or maybe Mississippi catfish?

bubba1231's picture



Every single time yopu write what very little credibility you have gts torn up.  Its so pathetic.  You have made an a$$ of yourself and instead of just stopping you double downa dn double down.  The amount of Corexit put into the ocean is so minicule that it isn't even worth talking about.  There was no disaster mjust a story hyped by desparate politicians and the likes of you.  I don't believe for one second you don't have a short interest in BP.  I think you are an outright liar.

Frank Owen's picture

Hey Bubba - You've been here for a month, made a little over 10 posts and everyone of them except one (and that one was about how inflation would push up the price of commodities likes oil) has been attacking the late Mr. Simmons or GW.


AssFire's picture

Bubba, with your hateful tone you are living up to your name (except perhaps drunk bubba with your spelling skills). This is plausible, and will be discussed by many for years to come. Someone needs to play Devil's advocate on debatable issues..and this one is undecided.

mkkby's picture

There is no fish anywhere that is safe to eat, except in small quantities infrequently. Anybody even marginally educated already knew that. The uneducated will continue doing what they've always done. And they'll have a much higher cancer risk later in life, that they won't understand.

30 years ago you could have gone with me to remote, isolated canadian lakes and seen official warnings about mercury in the fish. These lakes had almost no direct contact with human activity. Just being rained on thru polluted air made even those fish unhealthy. Oil and dispersant in the gulf is just one small addition to an already damaged biosphere.

laosuwan's picture

the fish from that region were never safe to eat to begin with. they are not safe now. I went to graduate school in New Orleans and you have no idea what is in the water there unless you see it to believe it yourself.  And does anyone really believe that the taco Obama ate was gulf fish and if it was, was the fish harvested before or after the spill? the usa government embassey is doing road show dinners here in thailand right now promoting usa seafood to hotels and restaurants, with big fancy dinners to the public to enjoy usa oysters and seafood. Obama is just an employee, he has to eat the taco to be part of the embassey's show. But if i remember my history correctly, the usa government has in the past also told the world that lead paint, nuclear waste, uranium, electromagnetic radiation, flouride, polio vaccine, acid rain, DDT, x-rays,2-4T (agent orange) and nitrates are safe. Why believe them about gulf fish now? I will listen to the fisherman first. They have no reason to lie.

AssFire's picture

The Japanese prefer fish from Australia and scorn fish from areas with heavily industrial coastal areas. They have a higher life expectancy..mainly from the fish oil they say. That being said I'll pass on the fishoil made from Menhaiden. How Omega Protein manages to remove the smell in itself is amazing, but getting people to ingest fish chum is a really amazing...

no thanks, I'll die young.

Reese Bobby's picture

The Japanese boil good quality meat so what do they know?  Shabu-Shabu retards...

I'd eat Gulf fish if I could find one.  I eat NYC street meat and take-out Mexican food so my system can take most anything at this point.

But I do loofah my ass with Omega Protein two rimes a week.  That's the key...

Citxmech's picture

Gordon, FYI:

Biological Magnification often refers to the process whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals move up the food chain, work their way into rivers or lakes, and are eaten by aquatic organisms such as fish, which in turn are eaten by large birds, animals or humans. The substances become concentrated in tissues or internal organs as they move up the chain. Bioaccumulants are substances that increase in concentration in living organisms as they take in contaminated air, water, or food because the substances are very slowly metabolized or excreted.

Although sometimes used interchangeably with 'bioaccumulation,' an important distinction is drawn between the two, and with bioconcentration, it is also important to distinct between sustainable development and overexploitation in biomagnification.
Bioaccumulation occurs within a trophic level, and is the increase in concentration of a substance in certain tissues of organisms' bodies due to absorption from food and the environment.
Bioconcentration is defined as occurring when uptake from the water is greater than excretion (Landrum and Fisher, 1999)

Thus bioconcentration and bioaccumulation occur within an organism, and biomagnification occurs across trophic (food chain) levels.

There's no way anyone has enough info to say what the longterm effects of that Corexshit crap will be on us, or our kids.  By eating seafood from the Gulf, people will become lab rats in an ill-advised experiment.  Not advising folks of the potential danger is outrageous.

snakehead's picture

The Mississippi River carries more "substances such as pesticides or heavy metals" than you can imagine and it dumps that stuff right into the Gulf.  Corexit biodegrades a lot faster than oil and there was lot less used. It's less toxic than oil and assists in the breakdown of oil, which is one reason it was employed.  It's the residual oil that's the larger problem there, I mean aside from the normal pollutants.

snakehead's picture

Ha. Junked by an anonymous Moran.  Where'd you get your Chemistry degree?

trav7777's picture

wouldn't believe that he ate a fish from the gulf, or if he did that it wasn't completely tested like with a mass spectrometer ahead of time.

The government is full of shit these days.  Maybe he ate it then they gave him ipecac.  Won't also believe he swam there unless I saw it with my own two eyes.

Had a conversation with an idealistic HS student on a plane about the mm-wave scanners at airports and she insisted that they smudge out your face and delete the images, well, because she saw it on TV that they do.  Seems to never occur to people that they could possibly be getting lied to.

VWbug's picture
Afghanistan says finds 1.8 billion barrel oilfield Published: Sunday, 15 Aug 2010 | 4:51 AM ET

KABUL - Afghanistan said on Sunday it had discovered an oilfield with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels in the north of the war-ravaged country, where U.S. and other foreign forces are trying to tame a Taliban-led insurgency.

The discovery of the basin between northern Balkh and Shiberghan provinces was made after a survey conducted by Afghan and international geologists, said Jawad Omar, a spokesman for the ministry of mines.

"I do not know its price in the market. But the initial survey says there are 1.8 billion barrels of oil and I think there will be more than what it is estimated," he told Reuters.

Various estimates of Afghanistan's hidden wealth have been made in recent years, but the challenge of exploiting the resources in a country at war and with little mining infrastructure is daunting for most investors.

Omar gave no more details on how the estimates were made but said the country will offer the reserves for development along with other minerals in the coming months.

Afghanistan hopes that untapped mineral deposits valued at $3 trillion could help reduce the need to rely on Western cash for bankrolling its impoverished economy and for its soldiers to maintain security when foreign troops draw down numbers.

But ravaged by three decades of foreign interventions and civil war, the central government now faces the Taliban insurgency and relies on foreign forces for control of many parts of the vast Central Asian country.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimated earlier this year that Afghanistan's mineral resources could top $1 trillion, but experts say the fragile security situation could delay seeing the benefits of this wealth for years.

Omar said an earlier plan for the tender of a 1.6 billion barrel Afghan-Tajik oil block in early 2011 was still on track.

He said Afghanistan will retender by year-end a deposit of iron of 1.8 billion tonnes it had scrapped earlier this year due to the global recession and changes in the world markets.

The untapped mineral resources include iron ore, copper, lithium, oil gas and gems which Afghanistan hopes to put for developing in coming years despite rising insecurity in recent years, the bloodiest period since U.S.-led troops ousted the Taliban in 2001.

China's top integrated copper producer, Jiangxi Copper Co and China Metallurgical Group Corp, in 2007 became the first major investor in Afghanistan.

They are involved in the exploration of the vast multi-billion dollar Aynak Copper Mine to the south of Kabul. Omar said the actual exploration of the mine will start after three years.

Copyright 2010 Reuters. Click for restrictions.
VWbug's picture

dammit! how are we ever going to run out of oil if they keep finding these massive reserves?

I got to rethink the long position i took on friday...

laosuwan's picture

Ha ha. that's right. the earth has more oil than don cornelius's face. the oil just keeps coming, from somewhere.

Thoreau's picture

Gulf seafood hasn't been safe for many years; only less so now.

Racer's picture

"President Obama ate a fish taco yesterday made with Gulf fish."


Reminds me very much of this story:

Probably the most derided politician to emerge out of the BSE scandal, John Gummer will always be remembered for making great public show of feeding his four-year-old daughter Cordelia a hamburger in the midst of the "mad cow" disease scare.

The press photographed Mr Gummer - then Agriculture Minister in the Conservative government - tucking into the burger with his little girl at a boat show in Suffolk on May 6 1990.

he also told an enquiry:

 he had delayed a ban on beef offal in 1989 because he did not believe it was "essential for public health"


lawton's picture

Its probably safe to eat if that oil is no more dangerous than motor oil which I saw a drunk person drink half a quart on a bet and he is alright 20 years later. Not sure about that dispersement stuff however...

AssFire's picture

You said you would never tell anyone when we made the bet...alive yes, but my ass is still burning.

CustomersMan's picture





I was especially interested that the birds wouldn't eat or touch the dead fish up and down the East Coast.


A good friend of mine from the Azores always said, "if you want to know if something is safe to eat, watch to see if birds eat it" generally if they eat it it's safe for humans.


In tis case the birds won't touch it. NOT a good sign.

ZeroPoint's picture

Do you have any links about that? I would love to read more.

jbc77's picture

My children and I will never set another foot in Gulf waters or eat a single piece of fish from that toxic soup. Why would anyone swim in oil & corexit or better yet eat something thats been living in that poison? Are they going to try to put Gulf fish back on the market? This is unreal.

Thank God I live in Connecticut.

snakehead's picture

Had a lot of scientific training, have you?

"Hot spots in the Sound where lobsters have high levels of alkylphenols (chemicals from detergents, plastics and paints) were discovered, as well as the fact that the lobsters are absorbing the chemicals through their food source..."

"Connecticut Company Pays Penalty for Violations of Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations"

Stay there. Please. Thank God you're going to. And toss some extra road salt down for me this winter, too.


knukles's picture

Hell, that's not even the half of it.  Shortly after all the clams and lobsters started disappearing from the Sound years ago, there were some momentary reports in the media (momentary as in disappeared shortly thereafter) about leaks at Plum Island into the Sound when the filters failed.

Later on, it was learned after Lyme Disease was "discovered" across the Sound in CT from Plum Island that on of the experiments that had been worked upon and had "leakage" had been studying whether ticks could be used to transmit dangerous diseases in a severe enough contamination to make tit militarily efficacious.

Hah!  And so you say; "Knukles, you moron, what in God's infected green apple worms has this to do with GoM seafood?"  To which I reply, that both news incidents have been managed by the Gubamint.  Go figure.

Nothing to see here, move along.  Oh and we'll be needing more tax revenue because of this new problem we gotta address to keep you safe, by the fucking way.  

"Don't demean it, pay your share to help us clean it." 

ZeroPoint's picture

Of course you wonder what they are checking for. There is a long list of toxic shit in crude.

I don't eat it unless it comes from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, or PEI.


Clycntct's picture

? had a little question at first by your response so had to go take a look. Well now I guess I shouldn't go with the first one.

Petroleum Equipment Institute PEI

Ahh feel much better now. Prince Edward Island.

ZeroPoint's picture

PEI raw oysters are wonderful.

Oquities's picture

is gulf seafood safe to eat?  does washing your hands in the toilet get them clean?  will not bathing cause you to smell?  will not brushing your teeth have any long-term effect on your gums?  why does it hurt when i poke my eye?

merehuman's picture

George Washington, a big THANK YOU for lighting up this "DEAD" issue

drwells's picture

"President Obama ate a fish taco yesterday made with Gulf fish"

Anyone else think of that old Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns is running for office and Marge serves him a 3-eyed fish that was caught in the river downstream of his power plant? He takes one bite and "PTOOOOI!"

G. Marx's picture


I;m sure there's planty of safe seafood coming from the gulf. But I am equally sure there's a share of unsafe seafood coming from the gulf. Now, someone tell me how to determine which is which?