FDA Warns Against British Columbian Raw Oysters Due to Possible Norovirus Contamination


The federal agency is advising restaurants, retailers, and consumers against consuming raw oysters from this Canadian province.

The FDA sent out a warning to people letting them know they should not consume raw oysters from Baynes Sound, British Columbia, in Canada that were harvested between January 16, 2023, and February 17, 2023, from BC 14-8 or BC 13-16 (landfile #140185), due to possible norovirus contamination.

Thus far, illnesses have only been reported in Canada with no known cases of norovirus associated with these oysters reported in the United States.

FDA sent along specific information so that retailers, restaurants, and consumers could be aware of the specific batches that should be avoided.

The affected batches include:

  • From Deep Bay, Baynes Sound subarea 14-8 landfiles #0278744, #0278742, #0278741, #0278740, #1414396, #0319716, #1414456, #1414457, #1400483, #1411206, #1407063, #1408485, #0278739, #0278737, #1403139, #0278734, #1411153 and #1411195 and subarea 13-16 landfile #1401845 in British Columbia, Canada.

Contaminated shellfish can cause illness if eaten raw, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Food contaminated with norovirus may look, smell, and taste normal.

For people infected with the norovirus, the most common symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and body ache. And people usually develop symptoms within 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.

Restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve the potentially contaminated oysters. Restaurants and retailers should dispose of any products by throwing them in the garbage or returning to their distributor for destruction.

The FDA also warned of other concerns related to the affected oysters in retailers and restaurants. They should also be aware that shellfish may be a source of pathogens and should control the potential for cross-contamination of food processing equipment and the food processing environment.

FDA said best practices for handling oysters include:

  • Washing hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross-contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.
  • Retailers that have sold bulk product should clean and sanitize the containers used to hold the product.
  • Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

For additional information, go to the FDA website.

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