Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Norovirus in Oysters

On November 15, 2011, I blogged about some food that can be risky. One of them is oysters. Today, I read in UK’s The Independent that more than three-quarters of British-grown oysters contain norovirus. The study, conducted on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), discovered that 76% of oysters tested from UK oyster growing beds had traces of the infectious bug.

Low levels of the virus, which causes symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea, were found in 52% of the positive samples, according to the data.

The FSA said it was "difficult" to assess the potential health impact of the findings, as researchers were unable to differentiate between infectious and non-infectious norovirus material in the shellfish.

However, it said the results of the study would be used as part of a review by the European Food Safety Authority, which is to advise the European Commission on what a legal safe level for norovirus in oysters should be.

Currently a safe limit for the highly infectious virus, commonly know as the "winter vomiting bug", has not been established.

And believe it or not, but between 600,000 and one million people in the UK catch norovirus every year. So oyster lovers – you are likely to take some risks every time you indulge in these molluscs!

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