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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is testing Gulf seafood; so far, so good, it says

May 6, 2010 |  2:31 pm

Getprev Hungry for a bit of seafood? The government's trying to make sure that what coming out of the Gulf is safe to eat.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s staff have been taking samples of oysters, crab, shrimp and fish from Mobile Bay, Ala., and other untainted areas of the Gulf this week. The samples are then being sent off to the agency’s labs in Gloucester, Mass., and Seattle, Wash., for chemical analysis and other tests.

The agency is also pulling samples of seafood from wholesale outlets and retailers in Gulf Coast states for testing, said agency spokesman Brian Gorman.

The goal, he said, was to establish a baseline of “what healthy fish and healthy water looks like, so we have something to compare it to as the days go by.”

The testing will check for contamination in the shells and meat, as well as test for “sensory” aspects  – such as smell and taste – that would indicate that something is wrong, Gorman said.

None of the tests are complete yet and agency officials said it was too early to know when the results would be finalized. But, Gorman said, NOAA officials had no reason to believe that tainted seafood had entered the country’s food chain.

“That’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Gorman said.

-- P.J. Huffstutter

Photo: Louisiana fishermen haul in their catch earlier this week, as the oil spill spreads into their fishing areas in the Gulf. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times