Tags: FDA | oysters | bacteria | food | poisoning

FDA Charged With Failure To Keep Oysters Safe to Eat

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Thursday, 26 May 2016 01:15 PM

A watchdog group is suing federal regulators, claiming the agency is failing to protect consumers from getting sick from eating tainted raw oysters.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late Wednesday in federal court. In the suit, the organization accuses the regulators of  “dragging their feet” on a four-year-old petition to regulate deadly bacteria in shellfish harvested in the Gulf Coast states.

“The FDA’s failure to adopt a safety standard to control these deadly bacteria is unconscionable,” said Julie Murray, the attorney who filed on behalf of CSPI. “The technology to eliminate or reduce V. vulnificus while preserving the texture and flavor of raw oysters is readily available. What’s missing is the FDA’s resolve to do something meaningful about this public health hazard,” she adds.

Without this safety standard, in the next year, an estimated 30 people will become seriously ill, and 15 of them will die, after consuming raw shellfish that contain the bacteria, called Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), the CSPI says.

According to the lawsuit, there were 616 reported cases of people being sickened by this bacteria between 1989 and 2010, and 301 of the people died.

The bacteria is the leading cause of seafood-associated deaths in the U.S.  It occurs naturally in coastal waters but is most common along the Gulf Coast. Levels of V. vulnificus peak during warm weather months when water temperatures are higher than at other times of the year.

It is particularly dangerous for people with certain health conditions, including diabetes, liver disease, cancer, iron overload disease (hemochromatosis), hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. These individuals are at greatest risk of contracting blood poisoning from a V. vulnificus infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection says.
 
Half of all individuals who are infected with this type of blood poisoning die, usually within a matter of days. The fatality rate is 100 percent if individuals delay seeking medical treatment for 72 hours. Many other individuals must have their limbs amputated to survive. Even a single raw oyster may contain a sufficient amount of V. vulnificus bacteria to be lethal, the lawsuit says.

The FDA has until July 25 to respond to the complaint.

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A consumer watchdog group is charging the FDA with failure to safeguard oysters from bacteria that can be deadly if eaten.
FDA, oysters, bacteria, food, poisoning
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2016-15-26
Thursday, 26 May 2016 01:15 PM
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