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Is seafood from the Gulf Coast safe to eat?

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Gulf coast seafood watch

With the BP oil spill in its third month, many people are concerned about whether or not seafood from the Gulf Coast is safe to eat. And with all the mixed messages out there, things can get confusing. To reduce your risk of contamination do your research before eating any kind of seafood and read a few seafood safety tips below.

Woman eating fish

Is seafood from the Gulf Coast safe to eat?


Seafood experts along with the government have deemed Gulf seafood safe to eat. Tests upon tests have been conducted before this crucial and potentially life-threatening decision was made, so consumers should feel safe eating seafood that has been fished out of the Gulf.

One-third of the Gulf area is closed that was affected by the spill, meaning that only seafood from the remaining opened waters can be fished, which tests have shown are not contaminated. So seafood from the Gulf Coast should be safe to eat.

However, if you still have doubts, simply follow a few tips on keeping you and your family safe from contaminated seafood.

Tips for eating Safe seafood

1. Eat smaller fish

The smaller the fish, the less chance there is of contamination. Bigger fish feed on smaller fish, which results in the bigger fish potentially consuming lots more contamination. So stick to smaller fish like sardines and stay away from larger fish like sharks and tuna.

2. Find reputable seafood sources

If you are purchasing seafood to cook at home, make sure you know where it's from. If it's not labeled, then ask. And if no one can tell you where it's from, then you should probably skip it. The best place to buy seafood is from a trust-worthy fish monger. The same goes for seafood when eating out in restaurants. If the menu isn't labeled with the location the fish is from, then ask the chef. He should be able to tell you.

3. Stay current

Just because a restaurant or grocery store is selling a certain type of seafood, doesn't necessarily mean it is safe to consume. Make sure your do your own research before buying any food and stay as up-to-date as possible.

4. Make your own judgments

In the end, no matter what articles you read or what the government says, you should make your own judgments about whether or not seafood from the Gulf Coast is safe to eat. If you don't feel safe consuming it, look for seafood from Canada or that was farm-raised. Make your own decisions for yourself and your family to keep them safe and healthy.

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