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Consumers Assured Of Seafood Safety

US - The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has launched a new website, www.MyFloridaGulfSafe.com, as part of a multi-faceted public awareness campaign to assure consumers that Florida Gulf seafood is safe and plentiful.

Many consumers still have the misperception that Florida seafood was adversely affected by the oil spill of more than a year ago, said Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Our testing shows that Florida seafood has not been impacted by the oil spill and we want consumers to know that Florida seafood is safe and available to enjoy.

Between August 2010 and June 2011, the Departments Division of Food Safety has screened 297 samples of finfish and shellfish for possible oil contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). All findings are well below the US Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) levels of concern.

Despite the proven safety of Floridas Gulf seafood, the public remains wary. In a survey conducted in April 2011, 63 per cent of Floridians voiced concern about the safety of Florida Gulf seafood, an increase from 48 per cent in January 2011. A majority of Floridians (59 per cent) remain concerned about the unforeseen risks of the oil spill on the safety of seafood.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is working to increase consumer confidence by raising awareness among consumers for the proven safety of Gulf seafood through the Florida Gulf Safe campaign.

The Department has partnered with Florida Outdoor Advertising Association to communicate this message on billboards statewide and with the Florida Department of Transportation to reach travelers on Floridas Turnpike via tollbooth signs. Full-page ads will appear in magazines that target chefs and restaurateurs, as well as in upscale consumer magazines. Tabletop displays will be distributed to restaurants and seafood retailers to reach consumers where they shop.

Sales of Florida Gulf seafood continue to lag and thats hurting our states commercial fishermen, said Nelson Mongiovi, director of marketing and development at the Department. By getting out the word that Florida Gulf seafood is rigorously tested in state food safety labs, we hope more consumers will once again enjoy their Florida seafood favorites.

The Florida Gulf Safe message will also reach national audiences through a special Sustainable Seafood Issue of Guy Harvey Magazine, which is named for the acclaimed marine conservationist and artist. The July issue features an article about the Departments ongoing testing of Florida Gulf seafood by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the states lead agency for food safety. The article features scientists of the Departments Chemical Residue Laboratory and reviews the results of their testing of finfish and shellfish for possible PHA contaminants from the oil spill.

The special issue also includes an article on Gulf Wild, a programme in which Florida Gulf commercial fishermen identify their catch with gill tags that enable retailers and consumers to discover the location where a fish was caught and by which fishing vessel and captain. The article highlights how vital marine species have rebounded through conservation methods that help create healthy and sustainable fisheries and how the future of aquaculture can play an important role in helping feed the increasing global population. Full-page ads promoting the Florida Gulf Safe message will also appear in the magazine.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation funds scientific research and educational programs to encourage conservation and best management practices for sustainable marine environments. The foundation funds the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern Universitys Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach. Guy Harvey Magazine is distributed in all 50 states and more than 30 countries and is popular with those who are actively involved in fishing, boating, diving and marine conservation.

To visit the Departments new My Florida Gulf Safe website, visit www.MyFloridaGulfSafe.com.

the Fish Site Editor

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