October 18, 2017

Texas A&M Researchers Kill Norovirus in Oysters with Electron Beam

Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a way to pasteurize oysters without chemicals or heat using an electron beam. A study measuring the method’s efficacy on norovirus and hepatitis A appears in the June issue of the scientific journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Hepatitis A is virus that causes a liver disease that can last for weeks or months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice. Symptoms usually develop two to six weeks after exposure and can last up to six months. Sometimes called “the stomach flu,” norovirus is an extremely contagious virus responsible for half of all … [Read more...]

OIG Audit Finds Beef Not Adequately Tested for E. coli

The Office of Inspector General of the USDA recently reviewed FSIS testing of boxed beef that is processed into ground beef or mechanically-tenderized steaks to see if the processes are adequate and used effectively to determine the sources of E. coli contamination. They found that FSIS needs to re-evaluate its methodology, since all boxed beef product is not adequately tested. Downstream processors grind boxed beef without sampling it for E. coli. In addition, grocery stores, butcher shops grind their own beef but FSIS does not sample and test trim at these facilities. E. coli 0157:H7, along with six STEC bacteria (Shiga toxin producing E. coli) are considered adulterants in raw beef. The report details twelve recommendations in response to five findings, including planning to modify … [Read more...]

Eight Cases of Vibrio Food Poisoning Linked to Oysters Reported in Massachusetts This Year

The Cape Cod Times is reporting that eight cases of Vibrio food poisoning were reported in Massachusetts this year from oysters. Last summer the state designed new regulations to keep consumers safe from this bacteria, but they failed.  The eight cases were linked to oysters harvested from Wellfleet, Orleans, Edgartown, Duxbury, Kingston, Barnstable, and Dennis. Public health officials think that increased public awareness may be part of the cause of this outbreak, but warmer water and air temperatures this last summer may be to blame. Vibrio was not seen in Massachusetts oysters until 2011 because the state's colder water temperatures discouraged the growth of the bacteria. In every month in 2012, the mean air temperatures were higher than average, including the third-warmest April and … [Read more...]

Drakes Bay Oysters Recalled for Vibrio; Three Sickened

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in Marin County California is recalling shucked and in-shell oysters. They may be contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria that can cause serious illness. In fact, the oysters are linked to an outbreak that has sickened three people so far. The affected oysters include shucked oysters in 9 ounce, 1 pint, 1 quart containers and half gallon jars and tubs. The lot numbers are 363 through 421. The in-shell oysters are sold individually or in bags ranging from 1 dozen to 7 dozen. Harvest tags range from July 17, 2012 to August 8, 2012. If anyone has any of these oysters, do not eat them; throw them away. Symptoms of Vibrio infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headache, vomiting, fever, and chills. Those in high risk groups, including the very … [Read more...]

FDA Warns Consumers Against Eating Shellfish from Oyster Bay Harbor

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to not eat raw or partially cooked oysters and clams with tags listing Oyster Bay Harbor in Nassau County, New York as the harvest area. Eight people in several states have been sickened with Vibrio parahaemolyticus food poisoning after consuming those foods. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed Oyster Bay Harbor to shellfish harvesting on July 13, 2012. The FDA told shellfish harvesters, shippers, re-shippers, processors, restaurants, and retail food establishments to dispose of any shellfish that have identity tags showing Oyster Bay Harbor was the harvest area and harvest date on or after June 1, 2012. The map of the emergency shellfish closure is available at the New York web site. The area … [Read more...]

Washington State Warns of Increased Bacteria in Raw Oysters

Right on the heels of a Vibrio outbreak in Missouri, the Washington state Department of Health is warning consumers to cook oysters before eating them. Traditionally, raw oysters are avoided in the summer months (months without an "R" in the name) because Vibrio parahaemolyticus grows more readily in brackish water during the warm summer months. Jerrod Davis, director of the Department of Health's Office of Shellfish and Water Protection, said in a statement, "Vibriosis is completely preventable. We want people to enjoy our state's wonderful shellfish, and following some simple safety tips can help keep people healthy this summer."  Most people cook shellfish, such as oysters, mussels, and clams, until the shells open. But that's not enough to kill any bacteria that may be present. … [Read more...]

Outbreak of Vibrio in Missouri

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has announced there is an outbreak of Vibriosis in eastern Missouri. The illnesses are caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which is usually associated with eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. Three cases of the illnesses have been identified June 27 and 28, 2012. Risk factors for acquiring this disease include eating raw or undercooked oysters, clams, mussels, or crabs; or cross-contamination of other foods or surfaces with raw seafood. The bacteria lives in brackish water and grows easily in warm water during the summer months. Symptoms of the illness include nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Some people become very ill, with fever and low blood pressure; those with weakened immune … [Read more...]

US Bans Korean Shellfish After FDA Finds Fecal Matter, Norovirus In Growing Areas

Korean shellfish is not safe to eat and Korea has been removed from the U.S. list of approved  shellfish shippers after officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered unsanitary conditions  that exposed molluscan growing areas to human fecal matter, norovirus and pollution, the agency announced yesterday. Previously, the FDA had issued a recall of Korean shellfish imported to the U.S. after  May 1, 2012. But now the FDA says no shellfish from Korea is safe to eat. Whether they are fresh, frozen or canned; mussels, scallops and oysters from Korea may have been exposed to human fecal matter, may also be contaminated with norovirus and are not safe to eat at this time, according to the advisory. Currently, the Korean Shellfish Sanitation Program (KSSP) does not … [Read more...]

Health Officials Warn of Vibrio Bacteria in Some Massachusetts Oysters

Massachusetts health officials are warning that oysters harvested from Cape Cod Bay may be contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria that causes about 4,500 cases of foodborne illness every year. That area has tidal flats with shallow water that can become very warm during the day. In just the right conditions of warm temperatures and the water's salt content, the bacteria grows very quickly  in the shellfish. Then when those oysters are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacteria can make people sick. The illness is characterized by watery diarrhea, cramping, nausea, fever, chills, and vomiting. Most people recover within a few days, but some people, especially those in high risk groups, can become seriously ill. Last year, five people became very ill with V. … [Read more...]

Norovirus Outbreak Prompts Oyster Recall In LA, MD, TX and GA

After being identified as the source of a norovirus outbreak, oysters harvested off the Louisiana coast are being recalled from destinations in Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Georgia, according to Ken Pastorick, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The outbreak has also prompted the temporary closure of the area where the oysters were harvested. "Area 23, one of 28 coastal shellfish harvesting zones in Louisiana, will be closed for at least three weeks," said Pastorick. When oysters are harvested, they are put into burlap sacks and marked with a tag that identifies the harvesting area. There are a total of 1,141 sacks of oysters in this recall, 80 of them went to the New Orleans area. Some of those oysters, served at a New Orleans restaurant on April 28 … [Read more...]

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