Chuck, don’t shuck, Drakes Bay oysters


Unless you’re a daredevil, masochist or perhaps a sea otter, don’t take any chances with any oysters you picked up recently from Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

The state’s largest oyster producer is shutting down operations and voluntarily recalling all shucked and in-shell oysters sold between July 17 and Aug. 8. after three restaurant patrons at separate San Francisco eateries reported getting sick July 21.

The California Department of Public Health issued a warning Friday saying Drakes Bay oysters may be contaminated by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacterium present in coastal waters.

About 8,000 Americans contract vibriosis each year, mostly from eating raw, contaminated seafood. Most people vomit, suffer diarrhea and feel like crap for a few days.

If you have a compromised immune system, though, things can get much worse, including death. 57 Americans die each year of vibriosis.

No other illnesses have come to light since last month, but the company has closed its processing plant until at least Friday while its oysters are tested.

Drakes Bay manager Ginny Cummings told the IJ they’re taking these steps to reduce potential harm to the public:

“We’re working hand-in-hand with the health department on this. Our biggest concern is that people are healthy.”

The state advises consumers to chuck — not shuck — any Drakes Bay oysters bought in the last three weeks. The CDPH website has a list and pictures of affected products.

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. harvests oysters under a lease in the Point Reyes National Seashore. They produce 40 percent of all oysters consumed in California.

The company’s 40-year lease expires in November, with locals and environmentalists trying to boot the long-time tenant. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is among the high-profile public backers of Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as associate professor at San Francisco State University.

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