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Consumers Warned to Avoid Raw Oysters from British Columbia

Oregon Department of Agriculture

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) advise residents not to serve or eat raw oysters harvested from British Columbia (BC), Canada, until further notice. Health Canada and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have linked harvest areas in BC to norovirus-like illnesses reported in multiple states and provinces sickening more than 300 people. OHA officials say no confirmed norovirus illnesses associated with the BC oysters have been reported in Oregon.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirms that oysters from BC have been shipped to retail and wholesale customers in the state. Only BC, Canada, oysters are affected. All oysters grown in Oregon and the US are unaffected by this advisory and remain safe to eat. FDA has provided specific information online:

https://www.fda.gov/food/alerts-advisories-safety-information/fda-advises-restaurants-and-retailers-not-serve-or-sell-potentially-contaminated-raw-oysters-canada

Here’s what you need to know to stay safe: 

  • Consuming raw shellfish may increase your risk of foodborne illness. Immune-compromised people, such as those treated for cancer, pregnant women, and individuals with other chronic health conditions, should not eat raw shellfish.
  • Until further notice:
    • Do not eat raw oysters labeled harvested in British Columbia (BC), Canada.
    • If you order raw shellfish from a restaurant, ask the server to ensure they were not harvested in British Columbia (BC), Canada.
    • The ODA advises the public and restaurants to thoroughly cook all shellfish harvested from BC to an internal temperature of 145°F for 15 seconds to kill potential norovirus.
    • Advice on handling and cooking oysters is available online: https://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/prevention.html#cooking and Preventing Norovirus Outbreaks | VitalSigns | CDC
  • Always wash and sanitize any surface that comes in contact with raw shellfish.
  • People with norovirus infection can spread the disease easily to others. To prevent others from getting sick:
    • Do not work while sick.
    • Always wash hands carefully with soap and warm water after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
    • Clean toilets or other areas that may be soiled with stool or vomit with soap and water. Then disinfect hard surfaces with 1/3 cup household bleach mixed with one gallon of water (wear gloves).
    • Wash soiled clothing and bedding in hot water and detergent.
    • Soft surfaces that cannot be laundered can be steam cleaned.
  • Symptoms of norovirus infection may include vomiting and/or diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, fever, and headache. Symptoms typically start 12 to 48 hours after and can last for 1 to 3 days. Most people recover without treatment. The Symptoms of Norovirus | CDC

Advice on handling and cooking oysters is available online https://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/prevention.html#cooking and Preventing Norovirus Outbreaks | VitalSigns | CDC

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