Huge Area for Fishing Reopened as Seafood Threat Lessens

NOAA has reopened more than 13,000 square kilometers of the Gulf of Mexico to fishing. "Since July 3, NOAA data have shown no oil in [this] area," a NOAA release says. "Fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination."

In general, food scientists are relieved that traces of the most dangerous constituents of oil, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, have been hard to detect in gulf fish and shellfish.

"Everyone's surprised they're not finding more PAHs in seafood," says Jim Bradford of analytical chemistry groupAOAC. In retrospect, were the risks to seafood exaggerated in May and June? Bradford says no, "I don't think it was overblown. I think we overestimated the short term impact, and I think we're underestimating the long-term impact. … The safety of gulf seafood will be in question for some time."