Friday, August 10, 2012

State Health Officials Say Avoid Eating Oysters from Farm Backed by Dianne Feinstein

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 5:19 PM

The California Department of Health is warning consumers not to eat oysters from Drakes Bay Oyster Company, because they may contain bacteria that causes serious illness. Drakes Bay Oyster Company is the same business that's been locked in a nasty dispute with the National Park Service over its oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore. As the Express has reported, US Senator Dianne Feinstein is a strong backer of the oyster farm and wants the federal government to extend its lease at Drakes Estero in Point Reyes — a move that would be unprecedented because Drakes Estero has been designated by Congress to become the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company
In a statement this afternoon, California health officials said at least three people have been sickened by eating oysters from Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The oysters contained the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus. "Symptoms of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection include vomiting, abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, headache, fever, and chills," the statement said. "Most infected people recover without treatment in a few days. Severe illness and death from Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection is rare, but can occur with chronic liver disease, cancer, or other conditions that weaken the immune system."

Drakes Bay Oyster Company, the largest supplier of oysters in California, has already initiated a voluntary recall of shucked and inside-shell raw oysters. "The shucked oysters are packaged under the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm label and sold in 9 ounce, 1-pint, 1-quart and half-gallon jars, or tubs," the health department stated. "The affected shucked products are labeled with lot numbers 363 through 421. The lot number can be found on the top label of each jar or tub. The in-shell raw oysters are sold individually or in bags ranging in size from 1 dozen to 10 dozen. In-shell raw oyster tags are marked with harvest dates ranging from July 17, 2012, through August 8, 2012."

A complete list of the suspect oysters from Drakes Bay is on the state health department's website. Health officials also are recommending that consumers experiencing any ill effects after consuming the oysters should consult their health care providers. People that observe the oysters being offered for sale are encouraged to call the California Department of Public Health at (800) 495-3232.

The health department bulletin and the recall could deliver a debilitating blow to Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which has been under fire from environmentalists for repeatedly violating state environmental laws at its Point Reyes oyster farm. At the same time, Drakes Bay, with Feinstein's help, is attempting to convince US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to set aside precedent, block creation of the marine wilderness, and extend its lease for another ten years before it expires this November.

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