The latest problem with Gulf Coast oysters is a pesky virus that is a frequent, unwelcome guest on cruise ships, school computers and at holiday parties.
Charles D. Humphrey/CDC
Norovirus: pretty to look at; nasty to eat.
Norovirus: pretty to look at; nasty to eat. Charles D. Humphrey/CDC
The Texas Department of State Health Services just recalled oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay last month that were contaminated with noroviruses, a bunch of bugs which can cause some pretty bad vomiting, diarrhea and cramping.
The state said the affected oysters were harvested between Nov. 16 and Nov. 25. Texas officials closed the oyster beds to commercial harvesting on Nov. 26. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state officials are looking into reports of about a dozen cases of norovirus-related "stomach flu" in North Carolina and South Carolina in folks who ate bad oysters from San Antonio Bay.
A spokeswoman for the Texas health department told us officials are trying to get a "fuller sense" of where the contaminated oysters may have gone.
The FDA recently backed down from plans to ban the sale of untreated, raw Gulf Coast oysters harvested in warm months due to risks of infection from the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus.
We wondered if the proposed food treatments, such as quick freezing and pasteurization, contemplated by FDA would have halted norovirus, a common culprit of foodborne illnesses. Nope, none of the post-harvesting techniques aimed at Vibrio in oysters would kill norovirus.