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Oysters linked to norovirus outbreak, FDA says

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Posted at 10:00 AM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 10:00:32-04

TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) —The FDA is warning restaurants, retailers and consumers about a multi-state norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from Canada.

The FDA confirmed the potentially contaminated oysters were distributed in several states. The states include California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

There could be additional states that received the oysters, the FDA added.

Retails are advised not to serve or sell oysters harvested from the following locations:

  • Baynes Sound: #1407063, #1411206, #278737 in BC 14-8 and #1400036, in BC 14-15.
  • “Baynes Sound” will show on product tags as “14-8” and/or “DEEP BAY”, or “14-15.”

According to Food Safety News, health officials have reported the following number of illnesses:

  • Canada – 279
  • California – 34
  • Minnesota – 29
  • Washington – 18

Norovirus symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body ache

"A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days," the FDA said.

People with norovirus can feel extremely ill, the FDA said and can vomit or have diarrhea many times a day. That can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults or people with other illnesses.

Anyone is at risk but children under five, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe infections, the FDA said.

What do restaurants and retailers need to do?

The FDA said restaurants and retailers should dispose of any product by throwing them out or returning them to their distributor for destruction.

Restaurants and retailers should also be aware that the oysters may be a source of pathogens and should control the potential for cross-contamination of food processing equipment and the food processing environment. They should follow the steps below:

  • Wash 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.

Consumers

  • To protect yourself and others from norovirus:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water often.
    • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. 
    • Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
    • Do not prepare food or care for others when you are sick, and for at least two days after symptoms stop.
    • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces.
    • Wash contaminated laundry thoroughly.

The FDA said consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

The FDA added that noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat and can survive temperatures as high as 145°F. Quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish may not heat foods enough to kill noroviruses.

This story was originally reported by Emily McCain on abcactionnews.com.