Is Gulf seafood safe to eat?

James Valles will head to Gulf Shores, AL Tuesday. Join him for continuing coverage on the Gulf Oil Spill. Check the Coastal Crisis page all day for updates. You can follow James on Twitter as he live blogs from the coast thru Wednesday.

By James Valles - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – "Let me be clear. Seafood from the Gulf today is safe to eat," declared President Obama last week during a visit to Mississippi. Yet, a week later, fear over the Gulf seafood supply has not died down.

"I'm staying away from seafood," said Columbus resident Greg Wilder. "I don't want to trust no seafood - not right now. We're eating less and less seafood because of the oil spill."

"I'm not going to any type of restaurants that involve seafood right now," said Brooke Olson. "I'm just scared to get a disease or just dying or just being contaminated."

"Well, I think everyone is a little scared," explains Jamie Gruber, the lead chef at The Market, a restaurant in downtown Columbus. "And, you have to use your own common sense."

His business thrives on what is caught in the waters. Gruber understands consumer concerns, but adds seafood is safe to eat.

"The same principles apply," he explains. "When you're shopping for it, you want to make sure there is not a smell there. You want to make sure the meat is nice and firm. If you're dealing with a whole fish, you're looking for the gills to still have some color. And, of course, the skin to have some color in it. As long as you buy from a good, reputable place, you should be fine."

Gruber says fortunately the oil spill has not affected business. But, he remains concerned over the spill's long term effects.

"The one fish that we're really concerned about is the Gulf Red Snapper because it's the only one that comes from the Gulf," Gruber said.

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