Contaminated Oysters? Find Out About the FDA’s Warnings

Subbotina Anna /
Subbotina Anna /

If you were looking forward to a fancy feast with oysters on the menu, you’ll have to maybe choose caviar instead, at least for the moment.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety advisory in six states, including Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. A reportedly bad batch of oysters from Prince Edward Island, Canada, was sold to restaurants and retailers in those states and could be potentially contaminated.

According to the FDA, the oysters, which were harvested on Oct. 10, could contain salmonella and E. coli, germs that cause food poisoning. The FDA stated that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), its fellow organization, tested oysters harvested by Future Seafoods, Inc. and discovered the salmonella and E. coli bacteria present.

The FDA’s advisory is not a recall but a recommendation that these establishments not serve the oysters to consumers but dispose of them instead.

What could have caused the recent contamination remains a mystery at this point. The CIFA continues to investigate the problem, and the FDA is in direct contact and has offered any assistance that state authorities may need.

Salmonella can cause serious illness, especially in young children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems. The FDA says that foods contaminated with salmonella or other harmful germs don’t give you an advanced warning. In fact, these foods, such as raw oysters, all look, smell and taste normal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe the symptoms starting about six hours to six days after infection. They include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within four to seven days without antibiotic treatment. However, there are cases of salmonella that include severe diarrhea, prolonged vomiting and dehydration and may require hospitalization and antibiotics.

Food poisoning from E. coli presents similar symptoms to salmonella, but it can be life-threatening in some cases. Symptoms appear in about three to four days after exposure by swallowing. These symptoms include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Serious health complications can develop from E. coli poisoning.

The FDA is urging that if you suspect that you may have been infected with E. coli to talk with your doctor.

To report a complaint or adverse event involving illness or serious allergic reaction, you can contact an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator if you wish to speak directly to a person about your problem.