Oyster 'relay' could eradicate bacterium – Fishupdate.com

Oyster ‘relay’ could eradicate bacterium Published:  22 March, 2011

Local oyster growers and researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) have discovered that transplanting farmed oysters into a saltier environment just before harvesting virtually eradicates the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus and thus foodborne illness.

The result could be an inexpensive way out of the problematic alterations made to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations set to take effect next season in the Gulf of Mexico.

VIMS professors Kim Reece and Howard Kator and a few local growers conducted the research and hope it will help the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry.

The change in regulations requires Gulf shellfish farmers to use “post-harvest processing” or “PHP” – such as low-temperature pasteurization, flash freezing, high pressure and low-dose irradiation – to kill Vibrio vulnificus.

The FDA deems PHP necessary to prevent about 25 deaths and 90 cases of illness in the US yearly as a result of the bacterium. Most of these cases result from consumption of raw oysters and clams from the Gulf by persons with health problems.