Raw oysters, or for that matter, any raw seafood carries a risk for food poisoning. While there is a fascination with eating raw foods, like Sushi, there is risk. That risk includes Norovirus, Vibrio and Hepatitis A. While Norovirus is an aggravation and an inconvenience, Hepatitis A may have lasting effects. Those effects can include long-term liver disease and failure. In some cases it can cause death.
Until now there was no hope for the avid raw shellfish eater. Eat the raw food and take the risk.
Electron beam pasteurization has recently been studied by Texas A & M University as a means of reducing the risk of hepatitis A and Norovirus infections. The FDA has approved the technology for other forms of seafood poisoning prevention. While this is not yet commercially approved for shellfish pasteurization, it offers hope.
I have eaten raw oysters, when I was younger and less informed. Since studying food poisoning, I have been very reluctant to do so. I have learned of so many tragic stories. Eating raw seafood is similar to walking across a busy street blind folded. You will be fine some of the time, you risk injury some of the time and you risk death some of the time. Doesn’t seem worth it to me.
Pasteurization was first introduced as a means of reducing bacteria in milk in 1933. It is commonly used for reducing bacteria in fresh fruit juices. The process reduces disease and saves lives. Pasteurization uses temperature to kill the bad bugs. Electronic beam pasteurization is new to the food industry and holds promise.
For those still wanting to walk across the street blindfolded, at least take some precautions.
Dr. H. Stueven