The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, together with various health organizations, issues warning against eating raw oysters from Canada, which are potentially infected with the norovirus.
The FDA confirmed that the potentially contaminated raw oysters from British Columbia were distributed to Alaska, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington. The administration also warned about the possibility that other locations received these oysters either directly from Canada or other distributors within the United States.
The contaminated oysters, which may look, smell, and taste normal, are particularly dangerous to people with weak immune systems, children below five years old, and the elderly.
Raw Canadian Oysters
The warning from the FDA is in line with investigations conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada, which found that raw oysters cause the outbreak of norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses in three Canadian provinces.
The actual carrier of the virus that has infected the oysters, however, remains unknown, and investigations are still in place.
For the meantime, restaurants and retailers who might have already purchased the oysters in question should stop selling them. Throw all supplies away in the garbage or return them to their distributors. The latter should eliminate the contaminated oysters.
All workers who may have been in contact with the products should wash their hands thoroughly. All storage facility should also be cleaned and sanitized.
The Canadian government has now advised people to cook raw oysters in an internal temperature of 194 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 90 seconds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight that noroviruses are relatively resistant. It can survive temperatures as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It can elude even the quick steaming process that is usually used for cooking oysters.
CDC additionally warns that all raw shellfish have the potential to infect people with norovirus.
Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. The quality of stool may be watery and non-bloody.
In general, washing of fruit and vegetables are highly advised. Thorough cooking is extremely recommended for raw shellfish.
Those who are already infected with norovirus should no longer prepare food for others, especially while they are still sick. The person infected could only return to cooking and food preparations at least two days after recovery. All healthcare providers or workers in schools, daycares, and restaurants who may also contract the virus are advised to heed these same precautions.
Household and hospitals with patients suffering from the norovirus are advised to clean and disinfect all surfaces that may have been in contact with patients' fecal matters and vomits. It is extremely advisable to use a chlorine bleach solution when cleaning. Put five to 25 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water.