By American Council on Science and Health 10-14-11
We’ve reported on bad studies. We’ve reported on scare tactics. But a new screed from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) manages to combine both of these in one wildly unfounded toxic seafood threat.
Coastal fishing communities have been struggling to recover from the BP oil spill last year in the Gulf of Mexico. Those whose livelihoods depend on fish from the ocean have faced an uphill battle not only to regain losses resulting from the spill but also to convince consumers that their seafood is safe to eat. At the same time, the FDA, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has increased seafood safety inspections, ensuring that consumers face no increased risk of seafood-borne illnesses by eating Gulf seafood.
But a new report by the self-appointed environmental activist group NRDC — published in the notoriously unscientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives — could serve as an enormous setback to those working to help the Gulf States recover. The guidelines set by the FDA for assessing the safety of levels of the targeted contaminant, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in seafood are off by 10,000-fold, claims the NRDC — a conclusion they reached by implementing their own custom-made criteria. Their baseless health claims are designed to scare consumers and attract media attention in order to further their own political agenda.
The FDA, health officials of Louisiana and Florida, and ACSH all vigorously reject this allegation, however. FDA spokesman Doug Karas goes on to counter the NRDC’s claims: “We put in an extensive program of sampling, at that time and since then, and the results have consistently been 100 to 1,000 times below our levels of concern.” In fact, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries calculated that a person could eat 1,575 jumbo shrimp or 130 oysters every single day for five years without seeing any harmful effect on their health.
Concerned that such a biased and potentially harmful report is receiving so much media attention, Dr. Ross contends, “The NRDC couldn’t care less about rebuilding the Gulf coast’s economy following the oil spill. They want to scare consumers and gain publicity and influence, all to the detriment of consumers, fishermen, and everyone whose livelihood depends on this industry.”