Department of Agriculture announces voluntary shellfish recall

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has initiated a shellfish closure and voluntary recall of oysters and clams harvested from the waters of Norwalk and Westport (see complete list of affected harvest locations below).

These areas are now closed to harvest until further notice. Raw or undercooked shellfish have been implicated as the source of a number of illnesses related to the naturally occurring bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Oysters, mussels, hard clams, littleneck clams, chowder clams, quahogs and soft-shell/steamer clams from the affected areas are harvested both commercially and recreationally. A commercial recall is underway.

“We are advising the public not to consume shellfish obtained from the closed recreational and commercial areas, and to discard recalled shellfish to reduce the risk of contaminating other food and food contact surfaces,” Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said. “I want to emphasize the importance of heeding this advice. If there is any doubt, throw it out, regardless of how much you love shellfish. It’s just not worth risking the health of you or your loved ones.”

Consumers who have purchased hard clams or oysters and are concerned that they may be affected by this recall should speak with the retail establishment regarding the harvest location of the shellfish that were purchased. Restaurants and retail establishments that believe they have this product on hand should contact their local health department for further instruction.

This recall does not include all shellfish commercially harvested from the waters of Norwalk and Westport, but rather only affects specific harvest locations. Shellfish affected by this recall include hard clams and oysters harvested between July 3 and Aug. 2. The following harvest locations are included in the recall:

CT 79 Westport, CT 123 Westport, CT 207 Westport, CT 173 Westport, CT 109 Norwalk, CT 20 Westport, CT 21 Norwalk, CT 109 Norwalk, CT 253 Norwalk, CT 268 Westport, CT 254 Westport, CT 599 Westport, CT 255 Norwalk, CT 270 Norwalk, CT 595C Westport, CT 595D Westport, CT 105 Westport, CT 207 Westport, CT 67 Westport, CT 171 Westport, CT 71 Westport and CT 73 Norwalk.

All of the above location information may not be present on each shellfish tag, and the information may be in a different order. For example, CT 79 Westport may read “Westport Lot 79, CT,” “L-79 Westport,” or simply “L-79” with no town designation.

Symptoms of V. parahaemolyticus infection include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 24 hours after eating contaminated shellfish, and can last two to seven days.

Vibrio infections can be life-threatening for immune-compromised people or those with chronic liver disease. Also at greater risk are people who regularly take antacids, heart, or diabetes medication, and those who have had antibiotic or cancer treatments recently. Consumers with questions about their individual risks related to shellfish consumption should contact their doctors.

Consumers who think they might have become ill from eating contaminated shellfish should notify their local health departments, as well as consult their healthcare providers for appropriate follow-up and treatment and to request a test be performed to detect Vibrio bacteria.

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