Oyster Ban Proposed By FDA
The Food and Drug Administration is considering banning fresh oysters from May to October. If approved oysters harvested during warm months would have to be processed before they could be sold. Florida fisherman and restaurateurs say the ban would hurt their business.
Raw oysters can cause food poisoning and occasionally death, mainly among older consumers and people with weak immune systems. According to Susan Smith of the Florida Department of Health, “this bacterium that is commonly found in oysters during Florida’s hot summer months could have an ill effect on someone who has an immune compromised system.”
The FDA is proposing a yearly ban on the sale of raw oyster during the warmer part of the year. Oysters harvested in warm water carry a higher amount of bacteria than the ones harvested in the cold.
Restaurants could still serve oysters, they would just have to be cooked and uncooked oysters would have to be processed before they’re sold.Restaurants that sell raw oysters are required to put a disclaimer on their menus warning about the risks.
Barnacle Bills, a seafood restaurant in Tallahassee, has been selling raw oysters for 32 years and hasn’t reported one case of sickness or death. Owner Jeff Stilwell says a ban is bad for business “Any kind of ban on anything just crushes business. It will probably put half the seafood restaurants over on the coast out of business.”
Fisherman will suffer as well. Ten percent of the country’s oysters are harvested from Florida’s Apalachicola Bay where dozens of fisherman depend on oysters to make a living. If approved the ban would go into effect in 2011.
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