Oysters and the Norovirus

A study has been conducted on behalf of The Food Standards Agency in order to establish how many UK oysters carry the Norovirus. It found that just over three-quarters of the oysters tested showed traces of the virus.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that UK oysters are dangerous; indeed the FDA has stated that the findings are not in any way conclusive. The findings cannot distinguish between infectious and non-infectious viruses, so it is difficult to ascertain what the impact could be on public health.

The findings are not pointless, however. There are currently no set legal safe levels of the Norovirus in oysters, and these results will be used to further our understanding of what acceptable levels should be.

Oysters carrying the Norovirus famously caused the closure of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant in 2009, with two hundred and forty people complaining they had been infected. It is estimated that up to one million Britons catch the bug every year.

Food safety training is essential for those working in the food industry so that these kinds of viruses that can be passed on through food and drink are understood and steps can be taken to minimise the risk to the public.