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Survey Says FDA Overlooks Seafood Safety

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  The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last week determined Gulf Coast residents eat three to 12 times more seafood than the Food and Drug Administration's determined national consumption rates. Those rates helped determine the acceptable toxicity levels found in seafood samples following the Gulf oil disaster.

  The NRDC report said shrimp consumption is the biggest concern. It found that shrimp consumption rates exceed more than 12 times the FDA's assumed serving of 3 ounces of shrimp once a week, or about four "jumbo" shrimp. (One large fried shrimp po-boy easily holds more than four times that amount).

  "The FDA has been setting safety standards for cancer-causing chemicals based on nationwide seafood consumption rates — failing to take the uniqueness of the regional diet into consideration. And this is a problem, because it means that current FDA standards may also be failing to adequately protect many people in the Gulf," said Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist with NRDC.

  The results came from a survey of 547 residents in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The results also showed Vietnamese communities eat seafood (oyster, fish, shrimp and crab) at even higher consumption rates.

  The findings echo last week's statement from Smith Stag law firm, which is challenging the FDA's and NOAA'S seafood safety label, citing evidence of the presence of hydrocarbons found in seafood samples from an independent test. The researchers who conducted that test also suggested the amount of seafood south Louisianans eat is much higher than the FDA's national average.

  Attorney Stuart Smith said the assumptions made by the FDA are "striking" and that "obviously, people in southeast Louisiana eat more" than the FDA rates suggest. — Alex Woodward

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