Division of Agriculture Works to Make sure Seafood is Safe after Oil Spill

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Panama City - Nearly one year after the BP oil spill, Florida Division of Agriculture is doing what it can to make sure our seafood is safe. Tuesday, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam took a boat tour in Panama City today to learn about local shellfish harvesting.

The Division of Aquaculture showed Putnam how it monitors water and meat quality for shell fish harvesting, Tuesday. The task has become more involved since last years oil spill, because officials now test for oil and dispersants on top of their usual testing.

"Showing him the water sampling we do, showing him the meat sampling we do...Just give him a flavor for the Department of Agriculture," Environmental Supervisor Chris Brooks said of things he wanted Putnam to take away from the visit.

Officials typically test dozens of water quality stations. Workers just tested a couple Tuesday to demonstrate the process to Putnam. The Florida Department of Agriculture recently settled it's claim against BP for $20 million: $10 million will go to seafood monitoring operations like this one. The other $10 million will go to market Florida seafood to the rest of the world.

"Our food safety labs are pretty well maxed out and at there capacity by virtue of testing these additional samples for gulf seafood," Putnam said.

Putnam says the recent BP settlement will help alleviate that strain.

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