Raw oysters cause seven in Tennessee to barf

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to eat raw oysters harvested from West Karako Bay, a section of Growing Area 3 in Louisiana. These oysters, harvested from Dec. 3 through Dec. 21, may be contaminated with norovirus.

Consumers who ate raw oysters on or after Dec. 3 and experienced these symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care providers and local health departments. Consumers concerned about the origin of oysters they have recently purchased should contact the place of purchase to determine if the oysters were harvested from the identified area during the Dec. 3-21 period.

FDA has received reports of norovirus infection in seven individuals who ate raw oysters on Dec. 13 at a restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Tennessee Department of Health’s test results from two of the ill patients were positive for norovirus. FDA confirmed the presence of norovirus in shell oysters harvested from the West Karako Bay section of Growing Area 3 and were served at the restaurant. Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals closed the affected growing area on Dec. 21. FDA is working with the states involved to determine if any additional actions may be necessary to ensure public health protection.

The original shipper of the oysters is Prestige Oyster Company of Theriot, La. The company shipped the oysters to Bon Secour Fisheries in Bon Secour, Ala. Bon Secour Fisheries, in turn, shipped the oysters to the restaurant in Chattanooga. Considering the shelf-life of the product, it is possible that suspect oysters from the designated area are still available in other retail and food service settings.

FDA advises that it’s always best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. Consumers can continue to enjoy oysters in many cooked preparations by following this advice:

At Restaurants and other Foodservice Establishments:
 0. Order oysters fully cooked.

In the Shell:
• Purchase oysters with the shells closed. Throw away any oysters with shells already opened.

To prepare oysters for eating, choose one of the following methods:
• Boil oysters until the shells open. Once open, boil for an additional 3-5 minutes.
• Steamer – add oysters to water that are already steaming and cook live oysters until the shells open; once open steam for another 4-9 minutes.
• Use smaller pots to boil or steam oysters. Using larger pots, or cooking too many oysters at one time, may cause uneven heat distribution, which may cause the oysters in the middle to not get fully cooked.
• Discard any oysters that do not open during cooking.

Shucked Oysters:
To prepare oysters for eating, choose one of the following methods:
 • Boil or simmer shucked oysters for at least 3 minutes or until the edges curl.
• Fry at 375 degrees for at least 3 minutes.
• Broil 3 inches from heat for 3 minutes.
• Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

For further information contact:
FDA Food Safety Hotline: 1-888-SAFEFOOD_FDA website: www.cfsan.fda.gov

This entry was posted in Norovirus, Raw Food and tagged , by Douglas Powell. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time