Rare seafood dishes have sparked the adventuresome side of many brave eaters throughout the years. For thousands of years daring diners have eaten fugu (blowfish) liver which contains the deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, a meal that is almost certain to end in death and has since been outlawed for sale in Japan. The Korean dish Sannakji is made of small pieces of raw baby octopus that is served before all the pieces have stopped squirming. The trouble comes when any active suckers on the tentacles sticks to a diner’s throat and causes them to choke to death. Adventurous diners have gone out of their way to sample these deadly dishes, most of which have been outlawed in major countries; but there’s a widely consumed deadly food that the FDA is now attempting to ban: Raw Oysters.
Falling ill from eating tainted raw oysters is a fairly common occurrence; raw oysters are more easily grown in warmer ocean regions like the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, warmer waters foster human pathogens and bacteria like vibrio vulnificus that is only removed when oysters are partially processed. Raw oysters do not get this bacterium removed because they are not processed and the bacterium goes largely unnoticed until consumed. Many people do not eat raw oysters due to concerns over this bacterium, but much of the flavor of oysters is lost when they are processed or cooked, making raw oysters much more popular. People with strong immune systems usually only experience violent illness from eating bad oysters, but fifteen people die annually from sepsis contracted from vibrio vulnificus. Darrel Dishon was in the Gulf Coast town Panama City, Florida, this year on his wedding day when he ate contaminated oysters and was hospitalized; Darrel missed his wedding and had both of his legs amputated above the knee to prevent the spread of sepsis. Fifteen annual deaths and the stories of people like Darrel Dishon are what initially prompted the FDA to declare a ban on raw oysters grown off the Gulf Coast during warmer months.
What made them overturn their decision was outcry from regional legislators, oyster producers, and raw oyster fans. The FDA’s plan was to require processing of all oysters grown in the area; a plan that would only affect the sale of raw oysters, not the entire industry. But with the popularity of raw bars and raw oysters in general, it would still deal a blow to a region that’s economy is primarily supported by oil and seafood. The FDA has officially overturned the ban, but is still discussing the health implications of these seasonal, regional oysters. However, with concerned consumers like Darrel Dishon’s wife Nicole speaking out against the sale of raw oysters, this likely won’t be the last attempt made to take the raw out of raw bar.