US FDA issues Pacific Northwest oyster warning, expands Korean oyster recall

Willapa Bay, Washington, U.S.A.
Willapa Bay, Washington, U.S.A. | Photo courtesy of Dmitri Kotchetov/Shutterstock
4 Min

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about oysters farmed in the states of Washington and Oregon.

The FDA is advising consumers not to eat and restaurants and food retailers not to serve or sell oysters and bay clams harvested from specific growing areas in Washington and Oregon because they may be contaminated with the toxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should dispose of these oysters immediately, according to the FDA.

The FDA alert applies to oysters harvested on or after 28 May 2024 from Netarts Bay and Tillamook Bay, Oregon, due to PSP levels in excess of 80 micrograms per 100 grams. The affected shellfish was shipped to retailers and restaurants in Oregon and New York and may have been distributed to other states as well, the agency said.

The FDA warning also covers shellfish harvested from Willapa Bay, Washington, including from Stony Point between 26 May and 30 May 2024; Bay Center between 29 May and 30 May 2024; and Bruceport between 29 May and 30 May 2024.

Restaurants and food retailers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, Oregon, and Washington that have recently purchased shellfish from those growing areas should not serve or sell them.

The Washington State Department of Health is concurrently conducting a recall for all shellfish species harvested from the areas named by the FDA due to possible contamination with paralytic shellfish toxins. It said it is working closely with industry stakeholders to conduct PSP testing, though it said there have been no reported illnesses associated with the recalled oysters.

We are working around the clock to notify and collaborate with the affected shellfish growers in Willapa Bay,” Washington State Department of Health Shellfish Licensing and Certification Manager Dani Toepelt said. The industry is doing everything [it] can to get through this PSP event and protect shellfish consumers from getting sick.”

The warning is part of a broader PSP occurrence along the Pacific Northwest coast.

Twenty people became ill from PSP after recreationally harvesting mussels during Memorial Day weekend at Short Beach near Oceanside in Tillamook County, as well as Hug Point and near Seaside in Clatsop County, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Some of the affected people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

In a separate food safety recall concerning oysters, the FDA updated its recall of frozen oysters from JBR, headquartered in Tongyeong, Republic of Korea, due to possible contamination with norovirus.

The supplier is voluntarily recalling all frozen half-shell oysters harvested between 26 November 2023 and 14 February 2024.

The recalled oysters, processed by JBR (KR-15-SP) in Tongyeong, ROK between 27 November 2023 and 15 February 2024 include the following lot numbers: B231126, B231128, B231129, B231130, B231201, B231202, B231204, B231205, B231206, B231209, B231225, B231226, B231227, B240102, B240103, B240104, B240109, B240111, B240114, B240201, B240203, B240204, and B240214.

The oysters were distributed to restaurants and retailers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, and Utah.

“Additional distribution may have occurred, and the states are continuing to conduct trace forward investigations. The FDA is assisting with and coordinating interstate notification efforts as a result of the states’ investigations,” the agency said.

In mid-April, San Diego County health officials linked 11 confirmed and probable casesof norovirusillness to frozenoystersimported from South Korea. They said that customers who ate the oysters at 100s Seafood Grill Buffet in Mission Valley, California, on 30 March became ill and one person went to a hospital emergency department.

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