TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning concerning potentially contaminated raw oysters that were sent to over a dozen states.
This week, the FDA announced that oysters harvested in parts of Baynes Sound in British Columbia, Canada, were possibly linked to a multi-state norovirus outbreak in the United States. The oysters were shipped to restaurants and retailers in at least 13 states, but possibly more “through further distribution” within the U.S. the FDA writes.
Restaurants or retail outlets in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington are being advised to dispose of, or return, any oysters harvested in the following locations:
- Baynes Sound: #1407063, #1411206, #278737 in BC 14-8 and #1400036, in BC 14-15
The words “Baynes Sound” will also appear on tags. Further identifying information is available at the FDA’s website.
Restaurant operators and retailers are also being urged to sanitize any surfaces the oysters may have come into contact with.
As of April 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had received 91 reports of illnesses linked to the outbreak. It’s possible the actual number of illnesses is much higher, considering many people may not seek treatment. State and local health authorities are also not required to report cases to a national database.
The FDA’s ongoing investigation is working to determine where, exactly, the oysters were served or distributed based on interviews with those who became ill.
Norovirus is currently the most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., where it is responsible for approximately 20 million cases each year, the CDC estimates. It is largely contracted by ingesting contaminated food or water, or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or other infected persons. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, among others, potentially leading to dehydration. Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience serious illness or death as a result of infection, although people of any age are still at risk, according to the CDC.
“Anyone who consumes raw shellfish is at risk of contracting norovirus,” the agency notes.