It is the official position of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the chemicals BP used in the Gulf of Mexico to disperse spilled oil pose no public health risks.
However, amid concerns that the dispersants might persist in seafood, the FDA and NOAA have decided to start doing some laboratory testing. The agencies have been on the lookout for traces of dispersants in seafood but they have been relying on professional seafood assessors that have been trained to detect certain chemicals by smelling samples of fish, and, according to an NOAA spokesperson, people are getting worried, so the agencies are developing lab tests:
"They don’t expect to find dispersant in fish but are operating out of an abundance of caution. It’s because people need more reassurance and confidence, which are not as controllable as you would hope."
It remains unclear when the lab tests will be ready, and the smell tests will continue until then, but, especially given BP's reluctance to disclose the exact chemical makeup of the dispersants they used, it is good to know that the FDA and NOAA are taking further precautions.