Steve Wilson, Chief Quality Officer for NOAA’s seafood inspection program, is heading a panel of seven olfactory experts from the Food and Drug Administration and the agency. The panel is formed to ensure that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is not unsafe for eating purpose.
The team will determine the expected time of opening of federal waters spread in thousands of square miles. The water in the gulf has been closed for commercial fishing because of the BP oil spill.
NOAA has not disclosed the identities of the members of this special team. Seafood first has to undergo a smell test and then a chemical analysis at a lab in NOAA, which is located in Seattle. This test in the lab looks for traces of the hydrocarbons.
The completion of those tests may take three to five days. Expert sniffers can sniff 36 samples per day and are able to identify the contaminants down to one part per million. All the seven members have to sniff the samples and rate them individually. Sniffers have the accuracy of 80%.
According to NOAA, the team is conducting the tests outside closed waters in order to ensure the safety of the food for consumptions. Till now, no tainted seafood is found in the area.
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