Washington-area grocery prices declined in October for the first time in five months, dropping by 0.3 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said yesterday.

The overall decline in local retail food prices reflected big drops in two major areas: The prices of meats, poultry and fish dropped by 2.2 percent, and the prices of fruits and vegetables dropped by 1.9 percent.

The October decline in fish and seafood prices reflected temporarily improved catches of migratory fish, the bureau said.

The declines offset an 0.8 percent increase in the prices of cereal and bakery products, and a 0.1 percent increase in the prices of dairy products.

Grocery prices in the Washington area rose moderately in each of the preceding four months.

The last decline in food prices was an 0.8 percent decrease in May.

Over the last 12 months, area retail food prices have dropped 3.7 percent, just under the 12-month national decline of 3.9 percent, said Pat Jackman, chief of the board for the Consumer Price Index.

Washington-area food prices normally decline in October, Jackman said. The data for the Washington area is not seasonally adjusted, as is the data for national price changes.

Grocery prices nationally, on average, were unchanged from September to October before the seasonal adjustment and increased by 0.4 percent with the adjustment, Jackman said.