New food safety infosheet: Oyster risks, not just for the raw crowd
Posted: March 29th, 2010 - 1:32pm by Ben Chapman
I'm not really a fan of oysters, raw or otherwise. The texture kind of bothers me, which is kind of weird because I love clams and mussels (a couple of years ago I toured around parts of New Zealand and sampled some of the green-lipped steamed mussels at a café in a tiny fishing community, right exactly as shown).
If I did like oysters and wanted to avoid risks associated with the raw type (see here, here and here – note bonus points for happening in months that have an ‘r’ in them), I probably would have leaned towards ordering the steamed variety. Not so much anymore. A norovirus outbreak (over 280 ill) associated with steamed oysters occurred at a popular Raleigh restaurant, the 42 Street Oyster Bar in December 2009. It has been known for a while (check this 1996 paper out) that steaming oysters (even if the steamers are working properly and get meat temperatures above 160F or so) may not really impact the hardy norovirus.
Heath officials have found in some incidents that steaming oysters did little for pathogen protection. Depending on the thickness of the shell; density of the meat; and, the length of steam, internal temperature might only be raised to 80F-140F. Steamed oysters may essentially be raw oysters in disguise.
This week’s food safety infosheet talks all about oyster-related risks, you can download it here.