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Gulf Oil Spill 2010: Seafood Safety Following the Gulf Oil Spill

Dear colleagues: The ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to raise food safety concerns about possible health effects from contaminated seafood harvested from the Gulf. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with other federal and state agencies are monitoring the seafood supply for signs of oil contamination. For the seafood to pose a health risk, the food would have to be heavily contaminated with oil, and would therefore have a strong odor and taste of oil. Presently, testing of seafood from the gulf is being conducted by the Gulf States, FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

CDC recognizes the importance of anticipating, monitoring, and responding to public health hazards that may affect human health. CDC is monitoring for potential illnesses across the United States that may be associated with exposure to contaminated seafood. Persons who consume seafood contaminated by oil may experience the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. We understand that these symptoms are general, and that consumption of contaminated seafood might not necessarily be the cause.

The CDC is working closely with state and local health departments, the FDA and the American Association of Poison Control Centers to ensure that we can quickly identify and respond to any potential seafood contamination. However, if you identify a cluster of persons with gastrointestinal illness that may be associated with exposure to oil contaminated seafood, we ask you to:

  • investigate the cluster as you would normally investigate a cluster of illness,
  • make sure your local and state health department are aware of the situation, and
  • notify CDC if a food borne outbreak associated with contaminated seafood is identified.

Please notify CDC by calling the Emergency Operations Center at 404-639-7100.

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