The warmer coastal water temperature produced by summer weather creates ideal conditions for bacteria that can contaminate oysters, the Washington State Department of Health reminded the public over the Fourth of July weekend. Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, two types of bacteria that grow in warm waters and can cause human illness, are known to be carried by oysters, especially in summer months. Because of this risk, it’s important to keep the following safety tips in mind when harvesting these molluscan shellfish, according to the Department:
- Know shellfish harvesting conditions before you harvest. In Washington, consumers can call 1-800-562-5632 or check WADOH’s maps on its shellfish safety page to see if there are any beach closures.
- Harvest shellfish from the beach as soon as possible after the tide rather than waiting until after they’ve been exposed to the air for a long time.
- Refrigerate or put shellfish on ice immediately after harvesting and keep them cold until they’re prepared and eaten.