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Old 08-05-2006, 03:43 AM   #1
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USDA Oyster Safety Alert (07/31/2006)

I read this article and ithought with many people enjoying oysters this time of year I thought this would be of importance...

Consumers Advised To Avoid Raw Oysters From the Pacific Northwest

The Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers to avoid eating raw oysters harvested in the Pacific Northwest as a result of increased reports of illnesses associated with the naturally occurring bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) in oysters harvested from the area. Oysters harvested from this region have been reported to cause gastrointestinal illness.
Until the threat of Vp from oysters harvested in the Pacific Northwest has passed, consumers are advised to thoroughly cook oysters harvested from that area before eating. They also should thoroughly cook oysters if they are not certain of the oysters' origin, or if they wish to further reduce their risk of infection from bacteria that may be found in raw oysters.
In recent months, there has been an unusual increase in bacterial illness associated with eating raw oysters from the Pacific Northwest. The illnesses are associated with the naturally occurring bacterium Vp, which is most prevalent during summer months when water temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are most favorable for its growth. While Vp can cause mild gastrointestinal disorders in healthy individuals, older persons and those with weak immune systems are at greater risk for serious more illness, such as septicemia (infection of the blood system).
Pacific Northwest oysters are distributed nationally. Although to date most of the illnesses reported have occurred in the Pacific Northwest, some have been reported in New York state as well.
In Washington state, shellfish control authorities are identifying and closing areas where people have become sick from eating oysters. Washington state has initiated a recall of all shell stock oysters (oysters in the shell) harvested from areas closed within the state. Because of the potential for nationwide distribution, consumers are advised to follow recall instructions and return associated shell stock oysters to the retailer from which they were purchased.
Cooking destroys the bacteria, eliminating the risk of illness for both healthy and immunocompromised individuals.The majority of illnesses that occur from the consumption of raw oysters are not life-threatening to the general population and commonly range from mild intestinal disorders of short duration to acute gastroenteritis. The symptoms are watery diarrhea, often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion and last no more than three days. Severe disease is rare and occurs most commonly in persons with weakened immune systems.
Persons with weakened immune systems, including those affected by AIDS; and persons with chronic alcohol abuse, liver, stomach or blood disorders, cancer; diabetes, or kidney disease should avoid raw oyster consumption altogether, regardless of where the oysters are harvested.
Consumers can continue to enjoy oysters in many cooked preparations by following this advice.
At Restaurants and other Foodservice Establishments:
  • Order oysters fully cooked.
In the shell:
  • Purchase oysters with the shells closed. Throw away any oysters with shells already opened.
  • Boil oysters until the shells open. Once open boil for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  • Steamer - add oysters to water that is 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:
  • 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

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Old 08-05-2006, 04:15 AM   #2
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Thanks for the "heads-up"! I don't go check the FDA website as often as I should ...

Since this is definately not an "Off Topic, Jokes, Games" item (it actually relates to what we are fundamentally about - food and cooking) - I'm going to move it to the "Today's Menu & Food Talk" forum where I hope more people will see it.

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Old 08-05-2006, 04:21 AM   #3
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wasn't there a thing years ago about not eating oysters during months that don't have an "r" in them? i know it had to do with refrigeration, but i wonder if they knew something else?
lots of old folks, old enough to remember ice boxes, weren't the best at 'splaining things. it was more of a "shuddup and watch me boy, do as i do" type of learning.

i wonder if they knew about bacterium, from a trial and error kinda way.
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Old 08-05-2006, 04:22 AM   #4
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Thanks for moving it still trying to find all the nooks and crannys of this board to post stuff.. Im a FDA nerd ilove reading these thigns
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Old 08-05-2006, 04:33 AM   #5
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How the heck do you find the time, Jen! I find myself staying up way to late and getting very little done in the mornings, okay afternoons, before I go to work.
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Old 08-05-2006, 04:39 AM   #6
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Meh i have a good 5 sites i go to and read... its a few late nights and early mornings.. plus with the B&B once im done my chores im done :)
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Old 08-05-2006, 05:01 AM   #7
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Well I can tell you all that I ate 1 dozen Pacific Oysters this arvo with just lemon, pepper and some brown bread, as a snack. Cost NZ$7.00 and they were lovely. But........they are oysters from NZ's Pacific coast so not at all associated with the ones Jen 's post mention.

Now by chance has anyone tried New Zealand Bluff Oysters?? I have tried oysters all over the world but these are the best IMO. Harvested from the cold waters of Foveaux Strait bottom of our South Island, a wee bit too close to Antarctica for my liking but man, does that chilled water give those babies some taste!!!
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Old 08-05-2006, 05:08 AM   #8
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have had lots of oysters, but never one from that far away lynan. (from the eastern u.s.).

how are they? large or small; plump or muscled; sweet, mineral, briney, etc...?
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Old 08-05-2006, 05:10 AM   #9
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Lyn i make it your mission to feed me some when i come down
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Old 08-05-2006, 05:44 AM   #10
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Jen, they are large, plump and briny and will be out of season when you come to NZ. Even unlikely to find frozen..lolol

Im only sorry I didnt realise it was Champagne Day cos' I would have opened a bottle of a local bubbles to accompany the Pacifics I had today. Never mind that we are well and truly ending 5th August as I write.
Gee but there are limitations to be at the ends of the earth.
The oysters make it positive tho'.
And our greenshell mussels, whitebait, orange roughy, crayfish, paua ( swoon), etc not to mention our kiwi berries!! ( non seafood!)

Go on...someone ask about them!!! lolol
Swoon again. Gee I love living here!
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Old 08-05-2006, 06:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
wasn't there a thing years ago about not eating oysters during months that don't have an "r" in them? i know it had to do with refrigeration, but i wonder if they knew something else?
lots of old folks, old enough to remember ice boxes, weren't the best at 'splaining things. it was more of a "shuddup and watch me boy, do as i do" type of learning.

i wonder if they knew about bacterium, from a trial and error kinda way.
Break out your old copies of the "Farmer's Almanac" ... it's partially due to the reproductive cycle of the oysters ... partly to do with "algie blooms".

Doesn't have squat to do with refrigeration .... it has to do with the cycles of nature.
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Old 08-05-2006, 06:47 AM   #12
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I'm using your 1/2 shell Pacific's Lyn, Jumbo-Jumbo size for crumbing. Did you know that Australia has banned importing oyster meat, some restaurants were re-using the shells and people were getting sick. Just takes a few to spoil it for the rest.
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Old 08-05-2006, 07:06 AM   #13
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No Attie, they are always fresh oysters that I eat/use for biz or personal consumption.

There was recently a HUGE scandal in lil ole' NZ during the visiting Irish Rugby teams match with the Allblacks. Apparently, the stadium caterers staff had forgotten to order the 100's of dozen local fresh oysters required for the corporate boxes so had to have a hasty rethink!! Bad move. They chose imported Korean ( Im sure they said that) oysters but neglected to read the disclaimer on the packaging ( its bad enough they were frozen when the punters expected/wanted fresh!!) which stated that the oysters MUST only be eaten cooked.
So....long story short, punters ate raw oysters from Korea, meant to be cooked because, as we have found out, they can contain some wee nasty bug as they are harvested near an open sewer area.
AN OPEN SEWER AREA???? And we are importing them?? Dear Lord.
Needless to say, it made national news when many high fliers got VERY ill and that Caterer's biz, obviously, is in trouble. Bad judgment/bad oysters/sick punters.
For me, if I cant get local fresh, I dont have them on my menu.
Simple!!
BTW anyone reading this...our Government is now looking more closely at banning these products. So much for Clean Green New Zealand at times like this. Its embarrassing.
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Old 08-05-2006, 07:12 AM   #14
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Sheesh Attie..yeah, the Pacifics on 1/2 shell are wonderful...all our oysters are but I only hope that one day I can live on Bluff Oysters (see, I capitalise them!!) and a good drop of the grape. I will be waiting a long time methinks.
We have been paying nearly NZ$2 an oyster this season. ( Bluff, but worth every cent!!)
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Old 08-05-2006, 08:04 AM   #15
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Buckytom, the old adage to stay away from shellfish in the months with no 'R's is the red tide thing. This danger is different. I live in the northwest on the straits of Juan de Fuca and this is really hitting my little town of Port Angeles badly.
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Old 08-05-2006, 09:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
wasn't there a thing years ago about not eating oysters during months that don't have an "r" in them? i know it had to do with refrigeration, but i wonder if they knew something else?
Bucky, that "thing" about not eating oysters in months that don't have "r's" in them has to do with the time of year when oysters spawn. It had nothing to do with refrigeration. In fact, it is still true today, only because folks are so accustomed to having what they want WHEN they want, we're now eating oysters in the off months. It's better for them and we get better oysters if we wait for the cooler months... when the waters the oysters thrive in are colder...

You don't see many oysters on menus in Europe in the summertime.... I guess they can wait!

Im also guessing that it's the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere. Lynan? Attie???
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Old 08-06-2006, 11:04 PM   #17
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thank you mikey, cjs, and chefjune for the info.

i mistated: i meant i know we can have them now in all seasons because of refrigeration, but yes, i've looked around and found that oysters in the northern hemisphere generally spawn around early summer, so they're much less plump, and harvesting them during the spawn decreases future yields.

the algae blooms, red tides, and bacterial infestations such as vibrio are seperate, usually localized issues, but coincide with the warmer months.

now, i still have a question: where did that expression come from. one article from brussels that i've read says it's an old french term. another says it comes from late 19th century louisiana. the oyster beds were being overharvested, so they banned harvest during and after the spawn, or months with an "r".

some of the info i looked up: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/beachreg/3clam.htm

http://safeoysters.org/consumers/eating.htm

http://www.marylandseafood.org/facts...oysters/qa.php

http://clarionherald.org/20050420/stall.htm
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Old 08-07-2006, 02:43 AM   #18
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"Im also guessing that it's the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere. Lynan? Attie???"
You are right June. Apart from around Sydney and northern New South Wales we realy don't have much of an oyster industry. Pretty well all we use here in North Queensland come from New Zealand now.

I pay AU $8 doz for bistro size and $10 doz for jumbo-jumbo, the average shell size of the J-J is about as big as a mans hand, maybe a little less.
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:38 AM   #19
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I just had some nice raw oysters from Washington about 2 weeks ago. I prefer pacific coast oysters.
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