Oyster Food Safety Tips You Should Know After 2 Reported Shellfish Deaths
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Two people are said to have died after eating raw oysters caught in Louisiana waters.
Rodney Jackson of Dallas, a 55-year-old Air Force veteran, bought oysters at a seafood market in Florida during a recent trip he took to the Sunshine State in early August, the Pensacola News Journal.
The local media wrote that Jackson consumed some of the oysters he purchased and fell ill with mild symptoms soon after.
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His symptoms reportedly worsened when he experienced difficulty breathing and he was rushed to the intensive care unit at Ascension Sacred Heart in Pensacola where he was diagnosed with vibriosis – a bacterial infection usually linked to shellfish raw or undercooked or from exposure to seawater.
Vibrio is the bacteria that causes vibriosis and each year it causes approximately 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The bacteria is believed to thrive in warm water – which includes saltwater and brackish water – and it can remain on shellfish long after the creatures have been removed from their aquatic environment.
Vibriosis infections typically occur after a person has consumed shellfish coated with vibrios or exposed an open wound to contaminated seafood or seawater, the CDC notes on its Food Safety: Oysters and Vibriosis webpage. “.
“An oyster that contains Vibrio does not look, smell or even taste like other oysters,” the CDC wrote. “You can kill Vibrio in oysters and other shellfish by cooking them properly.”
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Jackson, who served as a business manager, reportedly died on Tuesday, Aug. 9, and experts determined that raw oysters were the cause of his fatal infection, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
The New York Post reported that Jackson’s oyster-related death is the second to occur in Florida, but the first man to die from the same cause has not been publicly identified.
The two recorded cases are linked to oysters from Louisiana, according to the media.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the belief that “just a few oysters can’t hurt you” is a myth, which it noted in its online “Raw Oysters Myths” guide.
“Roberta Hammond, Ph.D, Food and Waterborne Disease Coordinator for Florida, cites a case where a death from Vibrio vulnificus occurred after eating just three oysters,” the FDA wrote. “The severity of any case depends on many factors, including the amount of bacteria ingested and the person’s underlying health conditions.”
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The FDA and CDC reiterate that only heat can completely kill vibrio bacteria, which is why both agencies recommend people cook shellfish and avoid raw offerings.
According to the FDA and CDC, alcohol, hot sauce, and lemon juice do not and cannot remove harmful bacteria from shellfish and other seafood.
Food safety tips suggested by the CDC include keeping cooked seafood separate from raw seafood to avoid cross-contamination, washing hands with soap and water after touching seafood raw and the removal of any shellfish that has already opened before cooking or that resists opening completely after cooking.
The CDC recommends boiling shellfish like oysters until their shells open and continuing to cook them for another three to five minutes for good measure.
Alternatively, the agency says the following cooking methods have been shown to be safe: steam whole oysters for four to nine minutes, boil shucked oysters for at least three minutes, fry shucked oysters in oil for at least minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, grill shucked oysters. oysters three inches from a heat source for three minutes and cooking shucked oysters for 10 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
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In terms of water exposure, the CDC says people should stay out of saltwater and brackish water if they have an open wound or have recently had surgery, piercings, or tattoos. .
“Cover all wounds if they could touch raw seafood or raw seafood juice, or if you could come into contact with brackish or salt water,” the CDC wrote in its safety guide for Oysters. “Wash open wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water if they have been in contact with salt water, brackish water, raw seafood, or juices or fruit juices. raw sea.”