Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making

Food, Nutrition and Recipes

Eating Oysters: A Health Advisory


When dining in or out, enjoy your oysters fully cooked.

Certain health conditions put some people at risk of serious illness or death and these people should NOT eat raw oysters.  Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that occurs naturally in marine waters. It is not a threat to most healthy people, but Vibrio vulnificus can cause sudden chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, blood poisoning and death within two days in people with certain medical conditions. The presence of the bacteria is not a result of pollution or poor product handling. Eating oysters from "clean" waters or in reputable restaurants with high product turnover does not provide protection. Eating raw oysters with hot sauce or while drinking alcohol does NOT kill the bacteria. Fully cooking oysters completely kills the bacteria. You can continue to enjoy oysters in many cooked preparations. When dining at restaurants, order oysters fully cooked if you have one of the risk conditions. You are at risk of being infected by Vibrio vulnificus if you have any of the following conditions:

-- Liver disease, either from an excessive alcohol intake (two to three drinks daily), viral hepatitis or other causes. (Liver disease will put you at increased risk for Vibrio vulnificus infection from raw oysters. The risk of infection is 200 times greater for individuals with liver disease than those without liver disease.)

-- Iron disorder hemochromatosis.

-- Diabetes.

-- Cancer.

-- Stomach problems, including previous stomach surgery and low stomach acid (for example, from antacid use).

-- Immune disorders, including HIV infection long-term steroid use, e.g., asthma and arthritis

-- If you are an older adult, you may be at greater risk of having these conditions than a younger person.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Florida Laws

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Contact Us About Handling and Serving Oysters

Division of Marketing and Development
Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing
The Collins Building, Innovation Park
2051 East Dirac Drive
Tallahassee, Florida 32310

Paul Balthrop
(850) 617-7280
(850) 617-7281 Fax

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