FDA Oyster Ban

By: Whitney Ray
By: Whitney Ray

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.

They can be steamed, fried, baked or even barbequed but real oyster lovers eat their rocks right out of the half shell. And while the taste suits their pallets, their bodies sometimes disagree.

Susan Smith of the State Department of Health says raw oysters can cause food poisoning and occasionally death, mainly among older consumers and people with weak immune systems.

“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. 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. You know the rumors, the innuendos, the things that go around. It will probably put half the seafood restaurants over on the coast out of business.”

And 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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  • by nunya Location: FL on Oct 25, 2009 at 11:32 AM
    People have been eating oysters for eons, both raw & cooked. Now the Gvt. wants to put more restrictions on an already stressed seafood industry, oysters in this incidence. If there is any cause for new forms of bateria hitting the sea food industry (especially in bay waters with river water tributarys) it is most likely because of the treated waste water that gets discharged into the rivers, from towns & cities up stream. The waste water is said to be treated, but it is not as treated as they want us to believe. The waste water treatments may kill most of the bacterias, but it has been proven that the treatment process does not remove most of the chemicals. From the fertilizers we use on our lawns that end up in the storm drains, to the prescription medications that people take every day. All of these chemicals end up in the water every day & it is upseting the natural balance in our, creeks, rivers, and oceans. The creatures that live in these waters, are living in our waste....
  • by Robert Daffin Location: panama city on Oct 25, 2009 at 09:04 AM
    I make a living shucking oysters at Hunt's oyster bar is the state ready to pay me unemployment for 6 months? I have been eating raw oysters all my life and I have had no problems. you should educate the people instead of banning them like what to look for in the harvesting tag, the oyster itself,and WHERE you purchase or consume. More people get food poisoning and DIE from eating poultry in the U.S than from oysters,and I don't see that being banned. I hope these ELECTED officials who support this are looking for new jobs
  • by miranda Location: blountstown on Oct 23, 2009 at 09:44 PM
    I'VE JUST RECENTLY OPENED UP A SMALL OYSTER BAR IN BLOUNTSTOWN. I KNOW THAT IF THIS WAS TO HAPPEN IT WOULD BE REALLY BAD FOR ALL THE SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS. THE FISHERMEN WOULD ALSO BE WITHOUT A JOB AND THOSE ARE SOMETHING THAT ARE HARD TO COME BY.
  • by Brian Location: Panama City on Oct 23, 2009 at 07:35 PM
    Thank goodness that the government, the FEDERAL government no less, has stepped in to save us from ourselves. I guess we're too stupid to live safely without big government helping us every day. Is this the "change" that we were promised? More government? Less freedom?
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