Food

FDA Advises Consumers & Retailers to Avoid Potentially Contaminated Raw Oysters from Canada

May 8, 2018

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and state and local partners, are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Norovirus illnesses that are linked to oysters.

What is the Problem and What is being Done About It?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with federal, state, and local officials regarding a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada. The FDA has confirmed that potentially contaminated raw oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada, were distributed to AK, CA, FL, HI, IL, MA, NY, and WA. It is possible that additional states received these oysters either directly from Canada or through further distribution within the U.S.

FDA and the states are conducting a traceforward investigation to determine where the raw oysters were distributed and ensure they’re removed from the food supply. Retailers should not serve raw oysters harvested from the following harvest locations (or landfiles) within Baynes Sound: #1407063, #1402060, #1411206, #1400483, and #278757.  

Oysters can cause food-related illness if eaten raw, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Food contaminated with noroviruses may look, smell, and taste normal.

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What are the Symptoms of Norovirus Infection

Most people infected with Norovirus develop diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Diarrhea tends to be watery and non-bloody. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children.

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How Soon After Exposure do Symptoms Appear?

Most people infected with Norovirus develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 48 hours after infection.

Who is at Risk?

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Anyone who consumes raw shellfish is at risk of contracting Norovirus. Children younger than five, the elderly, and those people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe infections.

What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?

Restaurants and retailers should not sell the potentially affected raw oysters. Restaurants and retailers should dispose of any products by throwing them in the garbage or returning to their distributor for destruction.

Restaurants and retailers should also be aware that the oysters may be a source of pathogens and should control the potential for cross–contamination of food processing equipment and the food processing environment. They should follow the steps below:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.
  • Retailers that have sold bulk product should clean and sanitize the containers used to hold the product.
  • Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross–contamination.

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What Do Consumers Need To Do?

People should not eat any raw oysters from the locations listed above. If they have any of the listed products, they should throw them in the garbage.

People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated raw oysters should talk to their health care providers.

Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

For food preparation surfaces and food cutting utensils that may have come in contact with the potentially contaminated oysters, it is very important that the consumers thoroughly clean these areas and items.

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Who Should be Contacted?

People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated oysters should talk to their health care providers. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD or consult the fda.gov website: http://www.fda.gov.


Additional Information

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Page Last Updated: 05/08/2018
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