Will Oyster Bars Suffer From the BP Oil Spill?

Are oysters starting to lose their appeal to the American palate? Some oyster farmers in the southwest are beginning to wonder about exactly that as they report having pulled a record number of oysters from the ocean this year but worry that we simply won’t want to buy them.

Gulf Waters Still a Source of Worry

The reason for all the concern is the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few months ago. The fear is that consumers in this country will decide to stay away from oysters caught domestically for fear of their being contaminated by the oil slick.

Government officials have attempted to assure the public that the oysters and other foods fished in the Gulf of Mexico are perfectly safe. However some consumer groups are not so sure about this. They are concerned with the implications of what might happen.

A Fear of A Repeat of Tylenol Circa 1982

Back in 1982, there were a number of bottles of Tylenol that were found to be affected by a poison. Tylenol recalled the affected bottles and they and the government assured the public that the bottles currently on the market were safe. However, in spite of assurances, Tylenol sales slumped as consumers feared that other contaminated bottles may not have been caught.

38% Concerned According to Recent Poll

A recent poll conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that as many as 38% of respondents said that they would reduce or limit their use of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico in spite of the government assurances that the food is perfectly safe.

What We Can Do

As restaurateurs, we need to protect ourselves from controversy. We’re suggesting that while oyster bars will obviously have to continue to purchase Gulf of Mexico seafood, they should also consider looking into other options. For consumers who ask questions about the seafood, establishments should have literature on-hand from reliable sources shows that the food we serve is indeed 100% safe.

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