November 19, 2017

How to Handle, Cook, and Safely Store Shellfish

The Washington State Department of Heath has posted information about how to safely handle, store, and cook shellfish. There have been Vibrio and norovirus outbreaks linked to eating uncooked shellfish, especially oysters, this year. All fresh shellfish should be stored in an open container in the fridge. Put a damp towel on the container to maintain humidity. Do not store shellfish in water, since they will die and may spoil. Shellfish that open and don't close when they are tapped are dead; do not cook or eat them. If the shells of horse clams, soft-shell clams, geoducks, and razor clams don't completely close, you can store them for three of four days. Shellfish that close their shells completely can be stored up to seven days. That includes oysters, littlenecks, butter clams, … [Read more...]

Oysters and Vibriosis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing information about the risk of contracting a Vibrio infection when consuming raw oysters. Summer is prime oyster season. And it's the time of year when most illnesses from raw oysters occur. In fact, a man in Washington state recently contracted a Vibrio infection when he purchased a live fish from a fish tank. One of the most common illnesses linked to raw oysters is vibriosis. This infection is caused by the Vibrio vulnificus or the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria that occur naturally in seawater. Oysters are filter eaters, which means they draw in seawater and filter out the food and bacteria. The bacteria then become concentrated in the oysters flesh. Most Vibrio infections are caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus. … [Read more...]

Another Food Poisoning Outbreak at Seattle Restaurant

Another food poisoning outbreak associated with the consumption of raw oysters has sickened people in Seattle, Washington. This time it's at the White Swan Public House at 1001 Fairview Avenue North.   Six people from two separate parties got sick after eating raw oysters at the restaurant on June 30 and July 3, 2017. No laboratory testing has been done, and symptoms suggest fibrosis, but public health officials cannot rule out norovirus. Officials learned about the outbreak on July 6, 2017. Environmental health inspectors were at the restaurant on the same day. The press release states that, "No factors were identified that contribute to the spread of Vibrio, such as insufficient refrigeration temperatures or evidence of cross-contamination." Just like the outbreak at the … [Read more...]

Standard Northern Nova Oysters Recall in Halifax, NS

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently investigating a company-issued recall by Fisherman’s Market International Inc. of its Standard Northern Nova Oysters, a brand sold for raw consumption. There is a possibility that these products were contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacterium that can occur at high levels in coastal waters during warm summer months. No illnesses have been reported in association with the consumption of this product. Vibrio parahaemolyticus, typically found in raw or undercooked shellfish, can cause non-bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in susceptible people. The incubation period for the disease is 2-48 hours; if acquired, the illness can last from 2 to 8 days. Those at increased risk of contracting the illness include … [Read more...]

Climate Change Increasing Vibrio Infections

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that climate change is increasing the incidence of Vibrio infections in the United States. Long term ecological data analysis has found that climate change is affecting marine animal, plant, and fungi populations. Marine prokaryotes (single celled organisms), the largest living biomass in the world's oceans, play a fundamental role in maintaining life on the planet. Evidence has been found that, for the first time, provides a link between climate variability in the North Atlantic and the presence and spread of marine Vibrios, one of the ocean's prokaryotes. Several species of Vibrio bacteria are responsible for infections in animals and humans. Humans acquire Vibrio infections by eating raw or … [Read more...]

Researchers Find Sensing Mechanism in Food Poisoning Bacteria

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a mechanism used by some types of bacteria that cause food poisoning. That mechanism is used to tell the bacteria when they are in the human gut, where they release the toxins that cause illness. Scientists studied Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacterium that grows in shellfish in saltwater during the summer months. Vibrio is one of the leading causes of food poisoning worldwide. And rising ocean temperatures because of global warming have contributed to the pathogen's growth. When people eat raw or undercooked seafood that contains the bacteria, they get sick. Dr. Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, said, "during recent years, rising temperatures in the … [Read more...]

In Canada, Oysters Recalled for Vibrio

Industry is recalling oysters harvested from British Columbia coastal waters on or before August 18, 2015 and intended for use as raw consumption for possible Vibrio parahaemolyticus contamination. Consumers should not eat these oysters raw and retailers and food service establishments should not sell or use them. There is no UPC number on these products, and the oysters are sold in various sizes. If consumers are unsure if they have affected oysters, check with their place of purchase. Vibrio is a naturally occurring bacteria that is present at high levels in some coastal waters when the water is warm. Most people contract a Vibrio infection by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters. There is a Vibrio outbreak associated with the consumption of these products. … [Read more...]

Vibrio Outbreak Sickens 67 in Canada

A Vibrio outbreak linked to raw oysters has sickened 67 people in Canada. The illnesses have been reported in British Columbia and Alberta. Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria naturally occurs in coastal waters during warmer months. Shellfish that is contaminated with Vibrio doesn't smell or taste off but it does cause illness. Symptoms of a Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection include watery or bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps lasting about three days. Young children, seniors, those with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are at highest risk for illness. Most of the illnesses in this outbreak were reported between June 1 and August 7, 2015 . The investigation is ongoing.       … [Read more...]

Vancouver Restaurants Must Cook Oysters Before Serving

Vancouver Coastal Health has issued a public service announcement, stating that restaurants in that province must cook oysters harvested in British Columbia before serving. Only oysters harvested outside of that province may be served raw at this time. An ongoing outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus relating to the consumption of raw oysters is ongoing in Canada. This bacteria is naturally occurring in coastal waters. This illness increases in the summer months, but the outbreak is large enough this year to warrant this preventative measure. Thirty-one people have been sickened with Vibrio infections so far in Vancouver. The actual number of Vibrio illnesses is probably much higher, since most cases of foodborne illness are not reported to authorities. Only 16 cases were reported in … [Read more...]

Florida Warns Shellfish Lovers About Vibrio Outbreak

The Florida Department of Health is warning shellfish lovers and beachgoers about a  Vibrio outbreak in that state. Vibrio is a flesh-eating bacteria that has infected seven people so far. Two people have died of their infections. People can develop this infection when they eat raw shellfish or if they swim in contaminated seawater with open wounds. The symptoms of a Vibrio infection include abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. A vibrio infection of the skin leads to ulcers and skin breakdown. Anyone with a weakened immune system can have serious complications with this type of infection. If the bacteria gets into the bloodstream, fever, chills, septic shock, and death can occur. There were only 32 cases of Vibrio reported in Florida all of last year. Most infections occur between … [Read more...]

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