Is Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico Safe To Eat?
At TJ’s we can feel the love for the Gulf. So many people in Dallas ask us, “What can we do to help?”
To quote Tom Colicchio (Grammercy Tavern, Craft, Top Chef): “If you want to help, eat Gulf seafood.”
But is Gulf seafood safe? How can we be sure?
The biggest misconception is that all Gulf seafood was affected by the spill. The Gulf of Mexico is a giant body of water, much bigger than the zoomed-in map that we see in news coverage. In fact, the majority of the Gulf was not affected by the spill.
Including the spill and buffer zones, the largest section that was closed to commercial fishing amounted to only 13% of the Gulf (84,000 of 615,000 square miles).
The majority of Gulf seafood is safe to eat simply because it was caught hundreds or even a thousand miles away from the farthest reaches of spilled oil or dispersants. An example is the shrimp we sell at TJ’s, which is “Gulf shrimp” but is harvested nearly a thousand miles away off the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula.
That is not to say there are not legitimate health concerns about seafood that comes from the spill zone and the regions directly surrounding it. But that does not account for all, or even a majority, of what we call “Gulf seafood.”
So rest assured, if Gulf seafood is available for you to purchase, it has been deemed safe by the FDA, the NOAA, the fishermen, the wholesaler and the retailer. The gulf seafood industry needs us now more than ever. Their livelihoods are at stake. If we don’t support them now, the future of gulf seafood could be at stake.
Change your life: eat more fish!
Jon Alexis is the co-owner of TJ’s Fresh Seafood Market & Catering, 11661 Preston Road, Dallas.