Florida Oysters Are Causing a Salmonella Outbreak in 3 States
Oysters are widely considered to be a delicacy, but consuming them raw can also turn into a particularly unpleasant experience for some unlucky eaters.
Last year, for example, the mollusks were linked to a norovirus outbreak that sickened more than 100 people throughout the U.S. and Canada. And now, oysters are once again being blamed for a new string of salmonella cases that have spread across at least three U.S. states.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about wild oysters sourced from a specific harvest area in Florida between Dec. 16, 2022, and Feb. 24 this year. The agency is urging people against consuming them and calling on restaurants and retailers to refrain from selling them because of possible salmonella contamination.
These oysters were distributed in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. So far, authorities have identified eight salmonella cases linked to the outbreak in those states. According to the FDA, it is possible that the affected oysters made their way to even more states during the distribution process.
Any consumers and restaurants worried that they might have purchased contaminated oysters should check the packaging to see if they came from harvest area FL-3012 in Cedar Key, Fla., the one linked to the outbreak. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services already issued an emergency closure order for harvesting oysters in that area. It also initiated a recall late last month for oysters harvested between Dec. 16 and Feb. 24.
Even if potentially contaminated oysters seem completely safe, consumers should still think twice before consuming them.
"Food contaminated with Salmonella may look, smell, and taste normal," the FDA said.
Salmonella infections typically resolve without medical treatment, but symptoms of the illness are no joke. Most people who are infected with salmonella experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These symptoms typically emerge between six hours and six days after infection and last between four and seven days.
Salmonella illness can be even more severe in certain cases, such as for children under five years old, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. And while only a small portion of the total estimated annual salmonella infections lead to death, consumers would be better off avoiding the risk altogether.
The FDA encouraged consumers who began experiencing salmonella infection symptoms after ingesting the Florida oysters to report those symptoms to their local health department and get in touch with their healthcare provider.