USA: New processing method makes eating raw oysters safer Published: 17 August, 2006
Researchers have been working on the new processing method
EATING raw oysters is getting safer, thanks to a new practice called post-harvest processing, or PHP, that virtually eliminates harmful Vibrio vulnificus bacteria from the shellfish, say University of Florida researchers.
Recently enacted federal guidelines require oyster processors in Florida and several other states to use PHP, said Victor Garrido, a research coordinator with UFs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The technology involved isnt cheap, so UF experts are helping processors in Apalachicola, the heart of Floridas oyster industry, evaluate various methods and learn to use them successfully.
Floridas oyster processors have to change with the times to survive, Garrido said. The industry is making a big effort, putting money and equipment into post-harvest processing. Theres also a risk in putting out a new product.
For decades, freshly harvested oysters were simply stored under refrigeration to discourage bacterial growth, he said. That practice is still in use, but PHP takes things a step further, by reducing the number of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria in the shellfish before they leave the packing house for wholesalers, retailers and restaurants.
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