FDA Warns Of Raw Oysters Linked To Norovirus Outbreak

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against potentially contaminated raw oysters harvested in Canada that are linked to a norovirus outbreak.

As of April 6, at least 103 norovirus illnesses have been reported from 13 states.

In a statement, the agency urged restaurants and retailers not to serve or sell these raw oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada, with harvest starting as early as January 31, 2022.

The tainted oysters were distributed in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington states. Additional states also could have received these oysters through further distribution within the U.S.

In its update about the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC noted that oysters and other filter-feeding shellfish, if eaten raw, can contain viruses and bacteria that can cause illness or death, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Food contaminated with norovirus may look, smell, and taste normal. Oysters are required to cook well to a temperature of at least 145 degrees F to avoid food poisoning.

Norovirus is a major cause of foodborne illness in the United States. The CDC noted that each year, there are about 2,500 reported norovirus outbreaks in the country, most common from November to April. The most common symptoms of norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and body ache.

In order to make sure the affected products are removed from the food supply, the FDA and the states conducted a trace forward investigation to determine where the raw oysters were distributed. Restaurants and retailers are urged to dispose of any products by throwing them in the garbage or returning to their distributor for destruction, and also to be concerned about cross contamination.

The FDA said it is working with CDC, federal, state, and local officials, and with Canadian public health authorities regarding the norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters.

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