EPA re-ups with S. Groner on food-safety campaign

LOS ANGELES: The US Environmental Protection Agency has picked up an option year in its contract with S. Groner Associates for a multicultural awareness initiative to stop consumers from eating fish from a highly contaminated site.

LOS ANGELES: The US Environmental Protection Agency has picked up an option year in its contract with S. Groner Associates for a multicultural awareness initiative to stop consumers from eating fish from a highly contaminated site.

The site of concern is the Palos Verdes Peninsula in southwestern Los Angeles County in California. White croaker in the area contain a high concentration of chemicals that, in the long term, can cause cancer, liver damage, and negative effects on the immune, endocrine, neurological, and reproductive systems.

The EPA is paying S. Groner Associates $860,000 to continue to oversee an outreach effort targeting people who consume fish caught in the region. A major stakeholder group is the Chinese-American community, which is why the campaign is in Chinese, as well as Spanish and English.

The effort is not only trying to push consumers away from eating white croaker. In instances where they consume the fish, Groner will encourage Asian-Americans to stop cooking it with its head and skin attached because contaminates are most prevalent in those parts of the fish's body.

To get the message across, the firm is organizing cooking classes to show that the fish can still be tasty without using those parts.

“We're not trying to discourage people from eating fish alltogether; we'd much rather they eat fish than a cheeseburger,” said agency founder Stephen Groner.

He added that a key component of the campaign is not only raising awareness but also giving stakeholders an actionable alternative.

“We just don't tell them what not to do; we give them a specific action,” he said. “It gives them something proactive they can do.”

Besides cooking demonstrations, the firm's staffers will perform educational talks around the community. There will also be heavy digital outreach through the sites pvsfish.org and losanglers.org, social media channels, online forums, as well as traditional media outreach and partnership cultivation.

The EPA feels S. Groner has been “instrumental” and “effective” in raising awareness and building partnerships in the area, said Rusty Harris-Bishop, a press officer for the EPA, when asked why it is continuing to work with the firm.

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