Managing Vibrio Risk in Oysters

Angelo DePaola

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 338-347, Jul 2019

Volume 39, Issue 4: Pages 338–347

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Vibriosis has increased more than any other illness caused by a pathogen in the United States (U.S.) food supply since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) FoodNet program began in 1996. Foodborne Vibriosis is almost exclusively associated with seafood, and most cases are linked to raw oyster consumption. Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) and V. vulnificus (Vv), which are naturally occurring bacteria inhabiting coastal areas around the world, are the leading causes of seafood-associated illnesses and deaths, respectively, in the U.S. Forces of nature and man, including bacterial evolution, climate change, risky food-handling practices, shifting geographical and seasonal production and consumption patterns, expanding globalization, improved recognition/diagnosis and fractured regulatory oversight have spawned a perfect storm of ever-increasing rates of vibriosis reported in the U.S. Control authorities in states with the greatest morbidity and mortality in which rapid cooling mandates have been implemented have seen sustained Vv illness reduction burdens for five years and appear to be driving down Vp illnesses as well in recent years. To better inform risk management, national and international risk assessments have generated forecasting and cold chain confirmation tools calibrated to risk. Emerging post-harvest processing and pre-harvest controls could further reduce or practically eliminate the vibriosis risk associated with consumption of raw oysters.

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