How Do I Avoid Food Poisoning from Oysters?

Marjorie McAtee

Food poisoning from oysters generally occurs if the shellfish are tainted with bacteria, especially the type known as Vibrio vulnificus, which is common in raw shellfish. Physicians generally counsel that the best way to avoid contracting food poisoning from oysters is to avoid eating them raw. It is generally safest to prepare raw food in a clean kitchen facility, with clean hands and utensils. People who are ill, especially those who are ill with infections commonly spread through food poisoning, should generally avoid preparing food, since they could taint it. One can also help prevent food poisoning from oysters be ensuring that the oysters are as fresh as possible, and purchased from a reputable merchant who stores them in appropriately chilled, sanitary conditions.

Vomiting is a common symptom of food poisoning.
Vomiting is a common symptom of food poisoning.

Cooking the oysters is believed to be the best way to prevent the transmission of food poisoning when they are eaten. Even if the oysters are tainted, it is likely that cooking them will kill the pathogenic agents. Consumers are typically advised to discard any oysters that do not pop open during the cooking process, since these oysters could very likely be tainted.

Pregnant women should avoid eating oysters.
Pregnant women should avoid eating oysters.

Hands, utensils, and cooking areas should generally be sterilized before food preparation to prevent the transmission of food poisoning from oysters. The cooked oysters should generally be kept well away from any raw oysters waiting to be cooked. If the raw oysters come into contact with the cooked oysters, any bacteria or other pathogens within them could re-contaminate the cooked oysters.

Shellfish should be prepared and served in a clean environment.
Shellfish should be prepared and served in a clean environment.

Physicians generally believe that food poisoning from oysters and other foods, especially shellfish, is more likely during the hot months of the year, when these foods are not as likely to be kept consistently chilled. It is generally best to purchase the freshest possible oysters for consumption, especially if they are to be eaten raw. The merchant should store the oysters appropriately before sale. Certain people, such as children, senior citizens, and pregnant women, are often at higher risk for food poisoning and may be generally advised not to eat oysters at all. People with liver disease, diabetes, kidney disease, reduced immunity, or those on certain medications are also generally advised to avoid the consumption of raw shellfish like oysters, since these people could also be far more prone to contracting food poisoning from tainted food.

Ingesting contaminated shellfish may cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, a condition that leads to temporary paralysis of the limbs.
Ingesting contaminated shellfish may cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, a condition that leads to temporary paralysis of the limbs.
Seniors, especially those on certain medications, should not eat oysters due to the risk of food poisoning.
Seniors, especially those on certain medications, should not eat oysters due to the risk of food poisoning.
Oysters should be eaten very fresh to help avoid food poisoning.
Oysters should be eaten very fresh to help avoid food poisoning.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments

Euroxati

Whether you're eating raw or cooked oysters, I feel that temperature and cross contamination are very important. They can happen even when you least suspect it, especially the latter.

For example, what if you unknowingly prepare cooked oysters on the same cutting board you used to prepare the raw oysters?

Even if the cooked oysters are thoroughly finished, you can still get sick from any of the bacteria that was on the cutting board. It's always a good idea to follow the rules of the kitchen.

Chmander

A few summers back, we went to a nearby lake, and I had some raw oysters. Even though I didn't get sick, I also didn't see what the big deal was. In my opinion, they were pretty disgusting, and didn't even have much of a taste. However, I guess it all comes down to personal preference.

RoyalSpyder

I have never eaten raw oysters before, and after reading this article, it further enforces my thoughts. It's a pretty dangerous thing to do, and you're eating them at you're own risk. However, fortunately, this only appears to be the case with *raw* oysters. Cooked oysters, on the other hand, are a lot more safe to consume, regardless of the temperature and time of the year.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: