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“We’re not saying that the seafood is not safe,” said Gina Solomon, a senior scientist with NRDC. “We’re basically raising questions about the government’s procedures, their scientific procedures and their transparency.”

One issue is whether government standards are strict enough to protect vulnerable populations, she said.

The FDA is reviewing the NRDC letter, but officials are confident in the protocols, said agency spokeswoman Meghan Scott.

The main issue with oil contamination is potential cancer-causing substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. These are pollutants that show up in other foods as well, such as grilled meat.

If there is contamination, fish metabolize it fastest, oysters and crabs slowest, and shrimp are somewhere between.

Testing includes “sniffers,” who check for traces of oil and lab tests on ground up seafood to check for signs of contaminants.

Because of strict adherence to procedures, the FDA “feels confident in the safety of seafood coming from these waters,” Ms. Scott said in e-mail. “We also understand that we must remain vigilant to ensure the safety of seafood coming from the Gulf. As such, FDA and NOAA will continue to monitor both water and seafood to ensure that tainted fish is not allowed into the marketplace.”

Like Mr. Mattiuz, John Currence, chef/owner of the City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford, Miss., has been getting a lot of questions about Gulf seafood — but not because customers are nervous.

“People have, through the entirety of this crisis, actually questioned us about our seafood because they wanted to support the Gulf fisheries and the Gulf fishermen, not because they were afraid of the quality of what was available out there,” he said.

Like others, he is concerned about the long-term effects of the spill, “but nobody has any idea of what the actual answer to that is. So the question is, are we going to sit here and wring our hands in fear for what the future may bring? Or are we going to do our best to make the Gulf heal and be glad for what’s coming through our doors every day that is entirely on par with what we were getting April 19 (before the spill began.)

In Oakland, about a half-dozen customers stopping by Hapuku Fish during a recent lunch-hour seemed unfazed at the idea of buying Gulf seafood. One exception was Louise Booth, a homemaker in the east San Francisco Bay. She wasn’t ready to buy Gulf seafood “for a while. I know it’s been authorized, but …,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

But regular customer Sharon Francis of Oakland happily selected some fresh Gulf shrimp to go with a paella. “I just trust my fishmonger,” she said. “I know these guys carry the best.”