Frozen Oysters Linked to Norovirus Outbreak

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to not consume certain ASSI Brand Frozen Oysters, which have been linked to <"">norovirus cases in Washington state. The potentially contaminated ASSI Brand Frozen Oysters originated from Korea.

The frozen oyster meat, which is shucked and not in its shell, is packed in 3-pound bags. Each bag is labeled with the words “ASSI Brand “INDIVIDUALLY QUICK FROZEN OYSTER” and bears a “Better if Used By” date of “2013.02.232.” Each bag identifies Central Fisheries Co. Ltd., as the packer and Korean Farms of Santa Fe Springs, California, as the distributor. Korean Farms has agreed to recall these oysters.

The individual bags are shipped in boxes of 10 bags each and bear the lot number C-110223, which appears on each shipping carton with the words “SHUCKED DATE: 2011.02.24.”

These oysters, which were served in a Washington state restaurant and were eaten by three people who fell ill, have been sampled and tested positive by the FDA for norovirus genotypes I and II. To date, there have been no reports of hospitalizations or deaths resulting from consumption of the recalled frozen oysters.

The recalled, potentially contaminated, frozen oysters were shipped to Washington state, California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and Utah.

As we’ve written, norovirus are a group of viruses that cause swelling in the linings of both the stomach and intestines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A highly contagious, severe gastrointestinal illness commonly referred to as the so-called “stomach flu,” Norovirus spreads quickly because it transmits easily through the vomit and feces of people sick with the illness. Contact with only a few particles can make a person ill.

Norovirus, which can survive for weeks on surfaces at room temperature, can be difficult to eliminate, and can only be killed with chorine bleach. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other preparations have never been found to be very helpful.

Consumers are warned to not eat the recalled oysters and to dispose of the potentially contaminated oysters in the trash or garbage disposal. Consumers who show any signs of illness after eating the frozen oysters should consult their health care provider.

Korean Farms Inc. can be reached at 1.562.789.9988. The FDA also encourages consumers with questions about seafood safety to call 1.888.SAFEFOOD or consult the website.

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