Lynn Swearingen (C) copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved


In a staggeringly stupid move, the Federal Government has again moved beyond belief. (If this report from the AP is to be believed)

“William Mahan bends over a bowl of raw shrimp and inhales deeply, using his left hand to wave the scent up toward his nose. Deep breath. Exhale. Repeat. He clears his palate with a bowl of freshly cut watermelon before moving on to raw oysters. Deep breath. Exhale. Repeat.
He’s one of about 40 inspectors trained recently at a federal fisheries lab in Pascagoula, Miss., to sniff out seafood tainted by oil in the Gulf of Mexico and make sure the product reaching consumers is safe to eat.”

Yes. You read that correctly. One of the “safeguards” that is currently being used in detecting possible contamination in seafood from the gulf is the “smell test”.

When I first read the title I thought “Wow! K-9s to the rescue!” and had visions of Lassie sniffing along wooden crates determined to save his human companion from the evils of the spill. Little did I know that those sniffers involved belonged to a “Federally Trained” group of human “professional proboscis” from IFPTI.

Even further in the article we come across another set of brilliant insights:

So what does an oily fish smell like?

“Well, it has an oil odor to it,” Mahan said.

No. He really said that.

Gerald Wojtala, director of the International Food Protection Training Institute, acknowledged that nosing around seafood may sound silly, but said it’s a time-proven technique.

“The human nose has been used on a lot of (oil) spill response,” Wojtala said. “There are a lot of sophisticated tests, but when you think about it, do you want to run a test that takes seven days and costs thousands of dollars?

I don’t know about the rest of America Food Consumers, but yeah when eating items dredged out of a sludge-pool of oil-slicked sea water filled with other dead or dispersant (see below) exposed food sources – I’m thinking the answer is “I’ll wait”. Dirty Shrimp should be a recipe title, not reality.

By the way, one might want to take a look at this recent commentary from Grist before considering ever eating from this source ever again. One tasty little tidbit?

And just how toxic is this stuff? The data sheets for both products contain this shocker: “No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product” — meaning testing their safety for humans.

Just who is the IFPTI and why do they even matter? Some of the players among the Board of Directors:

Dr. David William Kennedy Acheson: “In May 2007, Dr. Acheson was appointed as the Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection to provide advice and counsel to the FDA Commissioner on strategic and substantive food safety and food defense matters. In January 2008, he was named Associate Commissioner of Foods, which provided him an agency-wide leadership role for all food and feed issues, including health promotion and nutrition.”

Gerald Wojtala: “He was Deputy Director of the Food & Dairy Division with the Michigan Department of Agriculture where he managed the food protection programs in the state of Michigan”

Oversight through odors anyone?