The FDA is warning consumers not to eat and restaurants and retailers not to sell certain raw, frozen oysters from Korea because of an outbreak of norovirus infections.

The California Department of Health notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the outbreak on April 9. The FDA issued its warning on April 16.

The implicated fresh frozen half-shell oysters are from lots B231126, B240103, and B240214 processed by JBR (KR 15 SP) in Tongyeongsi, Republic of Korea. They were processed on Nov. 27, 2023, Jan. 4, 2024, and . Feb. 15, 2024, and have long shelf life when kept frozen.

On April 15, authorities at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in the Republic of Korea advised the processing firm to initiate a recall of the distributed lots of frozen, raw, half-shell oysters because of possible norovirus contamination.

The oysters were shipped to distributors in California and may have been further distributed.

“Shellfish, such as oysters, contaminated with norovirus can cause illness if eaten, and potentially severe illness in people with compromised immune systems. Food containing norovirus may look, smell, and taste normal,” according to the FDA warning. 

Restaurants and retailers should also be aware that shellfish, such as 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.

About norovirus
Symptoms of norovirus infection may include vomiting and/or diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, fever, and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms typically start 12 to 48 hours after exposure and can last for one to three days. Most people recover without treatment, however some may need medical attention for dehydration.

People with norovirus infections can spread the infection easily to others. The virus can live o n surfaces for long periods of time.

To prevent others from getting sick always wash hands carefully with soap and warm water after using the bathroom or changing diapers. 

It is very difficult to kill norovirus, but its spread can be contained by using soap and water to clean toilets or other areas that may be soiled with stool or vomit. Even microscopic amounts of the virus are highly infectious.

Hard surfaces can be disinfected with 1/3 cup household bleach mixed with one gallon of water – always wear gloves when handling bleach-based cleaners. Wash soiled clothing and bedding in hot water and detergent. Soft surfaces that cannot be laundered can be steam cleaned.

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