BP to fund Fla. seafood testing, marketing
BP on Tuesday said it will provide the state of Florida with USD 20 million in funding for Gulf of Mexico seafood testing and marketing over the next three years.
BP’s agreement is a big win for Florida, especially since other states, including Louisiana, have not yet had their seafood-marketing funding requests approved by BP. BP is paying USD 10 million for seafood inspections and USD 10 million for seafood marketing.
“It is a really good program, and it protects the public. And BP is paying for the seafood inspections, not the state,” Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson told SeafoodSource on Monday.
One of the best features of the three-year funding plan, said Bronson, is that if oil is stirred up by hurricanes and causes Florida waters to be closed, BP has to provide funding for another three years.
“We are not seeing any oil-related seafood damage, and the worst of it is over, as far as we know. However, we didn’t know what to expect and how much would blow back from hurricanes,” said Bronson.
Seafood marketing will be vital to get consumers comfortable with eating Florida seafood again, according to Bronson.
“About 75 percent of the people we monitored in our marketing effort said that they have added Florida seafood back to their diet, although maybe not as heavy as it was [before the oil spill]. We are down about 25 percent still, and we hope to get that 25 percent back,” said Bronson.
The funds earmarked for seafood inspections includes equipment and tests used to ensure that oil residues are not in Florida seafood.
“These are chemical tests and lab tests that are more down to earth than just the smell test,” said Bronson.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet told the state the type of tests that will be required, in addition to the current seafood-safety testing.
“If the FDA says to do a different type of test than is covered under the BP agreement, we will go back to BP” and it will provide funding for the other testing, said Bronson.All Food Safety & Health stories >