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Letter to Margaret Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner of U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Sens. David Vitter is urging the Food and Drug Administration to "publicly and vigorously" declare that Gulf seafood is safe to eat. Outside groups such as the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have recently claimed that Gulf seafood is not safe for consumption, even though all tests have shown that Gulf seafood is absolutely safe to eat.

"Gulf seafood is safe, and we want the FDA to make sure the public knows that," Vitter said. "The FDA is in the best position to provide a much-needed boost to our fishermen by publicly and vigorously defending the safety of Gulf seafood."

"The foundation for all of our marketing efforts is consumer confidence in the quality of Gulf seafood. It is critically important that the FDA and other federal agencies involved in the testing of Gulf seafood continue to educate consumers at the national level regarding ongoing testing and the results of those tests, which show that our seafood is safe," said Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) signed on to Vitter's letter to the FDA. The text of the letter is below. Vitter also sent a letter to the FDA on November 4, 2011 expressing his frustration with the FDA's lack of action on promoting Gulf seafood as safe. That letter is also below.

December 1, 2011

Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20993

Dear Commissioner Hamburg:

We are writing to ask for your assistance in an important matter on behalf of the seafood industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, we are very concerned about statements and actions by some groups claiming that Gulf seafood is not safe for consumption, when in fact all tests have shown that Gulf seafood is absolutely safe. We ask that you please engage more directly on this issue, and help us ensure that the general public understands that Gulf seafood is safe to eat.

Immediately following the tragic BP oil spill, safety and health agencies from the Gulf states worked alongside the FDA and other federal agencies to implement rigorous testing of seafood. These tests showed that our seafood is safe for consumption. Unfortunately, many consumers still believe that Gulf seafood is unsafe, in part because some groups continue to spread misinformation and unscientific claims that deny what this testing has proven. The BP oil spill had devastating economic consequences for our state, and lingering public doubt about the safety of our seafood is significantly impeding our recovery.

As the leader of our nation's primary agency tasked with food safety, you are in a unique position to provide a much-needed boost to our fishermen by publicly and vigorously defending the safety of Gulf seafood. Sound science must prevail to protect American jobs and to help reinvigorate this important industry. We ask that you please help us by more actively promoting the safety of our seafood and refuting unscientific claims which assert otherwise. We would welcome the opportunity to join you at a press event on the Gulf Coast to highlight this issue. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

David Vitter
United States Senate

Mary Landrieu
United States Senate

November 4, 2011

Dr. Margaret Hamburg
Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20993

Dear Commissioner Hamburg:

I write to ask your assistance in an important matter to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico seafood industry. Specifically, I ask that your agency provide leadership in vigorously defending publicly that consumption of Gulf seafood is safe. Immediately following the tragic BP oil spill, the Gulf states' safety and health agencies began working alongside the Food and Drug Administration and NOAA to rigorously test seafood from the Gulf and reassure consumers that these products are safe to eat.

Unfortunately, an environmental advocacy group is publicly misrepresenting scientific facts. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is not a scientific organization, but rather a far-left advocacy group that raises funds through sensationalized, dubious scientific claims and by filing lawsuits to put our fellow Americans out of work.

Last month, the NRDC convinced Time Magazine to produce an article based on the flawed work of one of NRDC's own scientists. The NRDC is currently litigating and lobbying to cripple Gulf fishing, shut down Gulf energy production, and impair numerous other job creators in the Gulf and across the United States. The NRDC has a long history of putting Americans out of work without regard to the economic impacts of their advocacy.

Although sensationalized pseudo-science may be a useful fundraising tool for the NRDC, it is important that sound science prevail to protect America's job creators. Our Gulf fishermen would appreciate further leadership and an assurance that the FDA will defend the readily available science that Gulf seafood is safe to eat. Accordingly, I request that the FDA take a more public stance on the fact that you continue to conclude that the overwhelming evidence is that Gulf seafood is safe for consumption. Thank you for your prompt attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

David Vitter
United States Senate


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