Health warning over oysters after spike in food poisoning cases

A warning has been issued over a popular seafood dish after a dramatic increase in cases of food poisoning.
Food Safety bosses in South Australia say they have seen a spike in cases of a gastro infection linked to shellfish after people ate raw oysters.  SA Health’s acting director of Food and Controlled Drugs Branch, Joanne Cammans, said there have been 36 cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections linked to eating raw oysters since September.  That’s compared to no cases in 2020 and eight cases in 2019.
Health safety bosses said they are “concerned”.  “This increase in cases reported to us in such a short period of time is very concerning, as food-borne illnesses can be quite serious for more vulnerable people in our community, such as older South Australians, pregnant people and people with compromised immune systems,” Ms Cammans said.
“The infection can be acquired by eating undercooked shellfish and fish however raw oysters are often the most common cause.”
The infection causes gastro symptoms including diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and headache, usually within 24 hours of eating the contaminated food.
Primary Industries bosses are investigating if anything might have affected the number of cases but said food safety rules were being followed at oyster farms.
“The number of cases can vary substantially from year to year, and it is difficult to pinpoint the potential cause,” Nathan Rhodes, executive director of biosecurity at the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), said.
“Inspections by PIRSA officers have found food safety practices are being appropriately applied on farm.”
Mr Rhodes said raw unshucked oysters should be stored at less than 10 degrees Celsius and shucked oysters at less than 5 degrees Celsius to minimise the risk of infection.
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