March 23, 2009

FDA issues a raw oyster warning

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people to avoid eating oysters recently harvested near Pass Christian, Miss.

The FDA said nearly a dozen illnesses have been linked to raw oysters from the Mississippi Sound portion of the Gulf of Mexico near Pass Christian. The location is known as Area 2C.

Consumers who are uncertain about the origin of oysters they currently have should contact the place of purchase to determine if the oysters are from the affected area as the agency investigates an outbreak of norovirus illnesses associated with the oysters, the FDA said.

Norovirus is a foodborne pathogen that can cause acute gastroenteritis in humans.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources closed Area 2C to oyster harvesting March 17 after the outbreak was reported. FDA officials said they were working with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to investigate potential sources of pollution that may have caused the area to become contaminated.

The FDA said people with weakened immune systems, including those affected by AIDS; chronic alcohol abuse; liver, stomach or blood disorders; cancer; diabetes; or kidney disease should avoid eating any raw oysters, regardless of where the oysters are harvested.