A man’s death is linked to flesh-eating bacteria that he caught after eating fresh oysters at a restaurant in Florida.
What are some food safety tips to remember when it comes to preparing and eating oysters?
Man Dies From Tainted Oysters
On July 8, a 71-year-old man had a seafood meal at a restaurant in Florida in which he consumed fresh oysters. Two days later, the man, who had unspecified underlying conditions, died from flesh-eating bacteria or Vibrio vulnificus.
According to health officials, this is the first confirmed case of Vibrio vulnificus in Sarasota County in 2018, and since 2017 when there were no recorded cases of the infection in the county.
Oysters And Vibrio Bacteria
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people who enjoy eating raw oysters and other undercooked seafood are putting themselves at risk of infections. Oysters, in particular, feed by filtering water, so when they feed on infected waters, the bacteria are concentrated in their tissues and can infect whoever will consume them.
It’s worth noting that Vibrio bacteria naturally occur in the coastal waters where oysters live. While most Vibrio infections simply cause diarrhea and vomiting, other infections, such as those caused by Vibrio vulnificus, can cause severe illnesses that can be fatal or may require the patient to receive intensive care or amputations.
Food Safety Tips When Preparing Oysters
It’s impossible to determine whether an oyster is infected with bacteria just by looking at it, so it is important to take note of the FDA’s food safety tips in order to enjoy the oysters while minimizing the risks for infections.
When eating at a restaurant, it’s best to order the oysters fully cooked, but when preparing oysters in shells at home, the first step is to remove and discard the oysters that have open shells. The oysters must then be boiled for about three to five minutes after the shells open, and any oysters that did not open must also be discarded.
When preparing shucked oysters, they must be boiled or simmered for a minimum of three minutes or until the edges curl or broiled 3 inches away from the heat for three minutes. When baking them, they must be baked at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, whereas frying them requires a temperature of 350 degrees and a frying time of at least three minutes.
Busted Oyster Myths
Among the busted myths about oysters are the ones that state how bacteria in oysters can be killed by drinking alcohol with it or if it is drowned in hot sauce. According to the FDA, nothing but exposure to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time can kill the bacteria in oysters.
Furthermore, avoiding oysters from polluted waters also does not guarantee safety from infections as the bacteria naturally lives in the same waters that oysters do.
There is also a belief that avoiding oysters in months that don’t end in the letter “r” would render one safe from oyster-related infections, but this is not true. While Vibrio vulnificus presence is higher in warmer months, 40 percent of cases actually occur in colder months, between September and April.
In addition, harmful bacteria in oysters cannot be seen or even tasted or smelled. Thus, there are no grounds for the myth stating that experienced oyster lovers are able to tell an infected oyster from the uninfected.