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Amid a rise in foodborne illnesses linked to raw shellfish, food poisoning expert warns that raw oysters may not be safe to eat.

Source: WVTM 13 News/Youtube

Cases of foodborne illnesses linked to raw shellfish have been on the rise over the last decade, food safety attorney Bill Marler told Insider. He says that while it may have been fine years ago, eating uncooked seafood is “not worth the risk” nowadays.

In spring 2022, hundreds of people in the United States and Canada got sick with norovirus after eating raw oysters harvested in British Colombia. Norovirus is also sometimes called food poisoning, stomach flu, or stomach bug, and it causes sudden onset diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pains that can last one to three days.

Another type of bacteria called vibrio can cause foodborne infections and infects about 80,000 people in the United States every year. Oysters are known to absorb the bacteria in the coastal waters where they eat. Although cases of it usually just cause a mild stomach ache, the CDC says that as many as 100 deaths from the infection are reported every year. One species of bacteria can lead to fatal bloodstream infections, skin blistering, and even limb amputations.

Source: Inside Edition/Youtube

Experts warn that as the ocean waters get warmer during the summer and due to climate change, it leaves a better environment for viruses and bacteria to thrive. This leads to a higher risk of oyster contamination as they feed by filtering ocean water.

“They’re absorbing viruses and pathogens into their meat,” Marler said. “It’s a process that helps clean the water, but doesn’t help the consumer of raw shellfish.”

Insider reported that vibrio can occur naturally in and around shellfish beds where the water is warm. However, other germs like norovirus and hepatitis A virus can end up in the water from sewage materials. This is one reason that untreated sewage has a huge contamination risk.

Recently, scientists discovered that dangerous viruses can remain infectious in water by ‘hitchhiking’ onto plastics. Although this study was conducted in freshwater, this could be another reason to stay away from seafood. Plastic pollution in the ocean is a huge problem.

Oysters that are contaminated with vibrio bacteria or norovirus usually do not smell, taste, or look different than others. Although cooking shellfish can kill bacteria and viruses, it doesn’t seem worth the risk.

Everything nutritious that people believe they are getting from fish and seafood they can get from other sources. Check out How to Ditch Fish Oil for Plant-Based Sources, New Study Finds Link Between Eating Fish and Skin Cancer, and Do You Eat Fish? You Could be Eating Plastic. Fish often have been exposed to many toxic chemicals like mercury which the consumer then eats when they eat the fish. Fish are also sentient creatures and can feel pain. There is no reason that we need to continue to eat these animals.

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