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Safety of gulf seafood a concern

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Recreational fishermen have returned to Grand Isle, Louisiana, April 18, 2011, a year after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 men working on the platform and caused an underwater leak that gushed 53,000 barrels of oil a day for three months. UPI/A.J. Sisco. | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/94b67dcc4cd15c964eca7d7fd6d5dab9/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Recreational fishermen have returned to Grand Isle, Louisiana, April 18, 2011, a year after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 men working on the platform and caused an underwater leak that gushed 53,000 barrels of oil a day for three months. UPI/A.J. Sisco. | License Photo

NEW ORLEANS, May 26 (UPI) -- While restaurateurs express confidence in the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico after last year's oil spill, consumers aren't so sure, a poll finds.

"We'd never do anything to endanger our reputation and our customers," said Ben Thibodeaux, chef at New Orleans' Palace Cafe where barbecued shrimp, redfish almondine and softshell crabs are all prepared with fresh-caught gulf fish and shellfish.

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But consumers still have doubts, as an informal online poll by USA Today found. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said they still wouldn't eat seafood from the gulf.

Government regulators say they're satisfied with measures taken to assure the safety of gulf seafood.

"We're very confident that the steps we have put in place to assure the safety of seafood have worked," Douglas Karas of the Food and Drug Administration said.

The FDA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration "established an extensive program of sampling in response to the spill," Karas said.

More than 10,000 samples have been taken, and results have consistently been 100 to 1,000 times below levels of concern, he said.

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