Dallas Man’s Death Reminder Of Raw Oyster “Rules”
The sudden death of a Dallas man who ate raw oysters in Florida is a reminder that raw oysters, loved by many, are a potentially deadly food.
The Pensacola News Journal reports that 55-year-old Rodney Jackson died after eating raw oysters. Jackson, who was visiting from Texas, bought the oysters from a seafood market. At first, Mr. Jackson experienced only mild symptoms. Within a few days, he went to a hospital because he was having trouble breathing. He died two days later.
Consuming raw oysters can, rarely, lead to a bacterial infection called Vibrio. Fatalities are rare but happen every year in the U.S. According to the CDC, about 80,000 Americans get vibriosis EACH year, and around 100 die. To be extra-clear: about ONE HUNDRED AMERICANS die every year from eating tainted shellfish, usually raw oysters.
There are a few well-known “rules” about eating raw oysters. Maybe you’ve heard about “only eat them in months that have the letter R in their names”. How about, if you put enough hot sauce on them it will kill the bacteria?
Here are a few myths vs. facts about raw oyster lore…
CLAIM: ONLY eat raw oysters in months with the letter “R”
FACT: The only months without an “R” are May thru August. AKA: “The Summer”. It’s true that rates of Vibrio infection are higher in the summer months. However, the FDA says, a full 40% of cases occur between September and April. So, it may be slightly riskier to eat raw shellfish in the hotter months but it’s possible to get sick all year.
CLAIM: Putting hot sauce on oysters will kill all the bacteria.
FACT: Nope. There’s no hot sauce that will kill Vibrio bacteria. Only cooking them thoroughly will do that but, then, they’re not raw anymore.
CLAIM: If you do oyster shooters, the booze will kill all the bacteria.
FACT: The FDA is raining on our oyster parade again. Alcohol does NOT kill Vibrio bacteria.
CLAIM: Oysters are an aphrodisiac.
FACT: No, they just look that way.
CLAIM: Raw oysters are delicious
FACT: The jury’s still out on this one.