Our state public health laboratory Environmental & Analytical Chemistry unit has been selected as 1 of 8 chemistry laboratories across the country that will be examining commercial seafood for contaminants from the gusher in the Gulf. The goal is find out whether commercial seafood has been contaminated by the oil spill and if so, to determine whether the levels pose a health risk. Our team, and other labs will specialize in testing for Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
All our work will be 100% federally funded under our current FDA Food Emergency Response Network http://www.fernlab.org/ cooperative agreement. Our chemistry team in the Lab is calibrating the instruments we have in house for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration testing method as you’re reading this. We expect to receive additional extraction instruments in the near future which will allow us to process the fish tissue for analysis. We’ll be testing as many as 300 samples per week (starting with fin fish samples) from the Gulf beginning in July. It’s possible that the testing will continue well into the foreseeable future.
Hi Will – I enjoy your weekly newsletter. Last I knew there were only a few people working in the labs due to cuts. Will they be hiring new folks? Food safety is a big issue as well in local food banks, not just in the seafood from the Gulf. How are inspections done at food banks? Thanks – and congratulations belatedly on your appointment as Director. — Susan
It’s true that we just have a few state general fund folks left in the lab- but we’ve been applying for federal grants over the last few years to maintain our capacity. The Gulf testing will be done with our folks funded through our Food Emergency Response Network cooperative agreement with the FDA. For now, we’ll just be getting additional instruments- but we could potentially get a supplemental award for more staff as the response progresses.