Friday, July 16, 2010

Consumers concerned about Gulf seafood

By David Elliott – WLOX TV Biloxi/Gulfport/Pascagoula

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - According to a new ABC News poll, 75% of people said they are concerned about the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. The oil disaster has created a crisis in consumer confidence.

"We get calls everyday from people asking if our seafood is safe to eat," said Jim Gunkel, Business Manager of Quality Poultry and Seafood in Biloxi.

Gunkel assures customers that all of the seafood is tested by both federal and state government agencies. Joe Jewell with DMR says the Department of Marine Resources, the State Health Department and MDEQ collect regular samples.

"We send them to a lab at Mississippi State University. The tests are specifically designed to look for the presence of oil. So far, all tests have come back non-detectable," said Jewell.

Bill Loyal and his wife were buying fresh shrimp at Quality Seafood on Thursday. Loyal said he's comfortable with the safe guards that are in place.

"I have faith in the local people. I don't think they would sell shrimp that is contaminated," Loyal said.

Gunkel said the fear factor is taking a toll on his company's bottom line.

"I would say our business is off 30% to 40%."

Meanwhile Gunkel said shrimp might be hard to find and prices are going up, but he's able to buy product.

"We're getting shrimp and crab meat from Louisiana and Florida. We're still getting fresh seafood in here," Gunkel said.

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