Gulf Oyster Ban Hysteria

"A couple of months would have been okay, but five months is too much," oysterman Misho Ivic said about the newly announced FDA summer oyster ban. Oystermen were taken by surprise last weekend when the FDA went over the head of the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Commission and announced an aggressive new policy to clean up health problems caused by vibrio vulnificus bacteria. Now the oystermen are trying to push back. The sale of live Gulf oysters in the summer months is scheduled to end in May 2011, and the oyster industry says that's too soon.

Ivic said the new rules will still permit oyster leaseholders to harvest summer oysters and sell them shucked in jars or on the half shell if the oysters are treated. "But these post-harvest treated oysters don't taste any good," he complained. The oystermen will ask the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Commission for a shorter ban, more time to assess consumer reactions, and more time to study the issue.

Some news sources are mistakenly reporting that the Feds are seeking to ban all live oysters or force the post-harvest treatment of oysters throughout the year. The ban is for summer oysters only.