Jul 23

Shellfish harvesting returns at the beach!

Vibriosis is still a possibility, so always cook your shellfish to at least 145 degrees F prior to consuming.

What is vibriosis?

Vibriosis is an intestinal disease caused by small bacteria called vibrio.  Vibrio are found in fish and shellfish living in saltwater and in rivers and streams where freshwater meets saltwater.  Although there are several types of vibrio, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and related species are the most common in the northwest.

Where does vibrio come from?

Vibrio is found naturally in marine coastal waters, normally in low numbers that pose no problems.  It multiplies rapidly in warm conditions, so fish and shellfish are more likely to be contaminated in the summer.

How is it spread?

Most cases occur from eating raw or undercooked fish or shellfish.  However, even fully cooked food can be recontaminated if rinsed with seawater.  Failure to keep shellfish cold after harvesting can contribute to the growth of the bacteria.  Poor food handling practices during preparation or improper refigeration of prepared seafood can also lead to illness.  (See Food Safety Tips for more information on safe food handling practices.)

How can I prevent vibriosis?

Vibrio is destroyed by cooking shellfish to an internal temperature of 145° F for 15 seconds.

Eat only well-cooked shellfish, especially in summer months. Do not consider shellfish to be fully cooked when the shells just open; they need to cook longer to reach 145° F.

When harvesting:

  • Just before you leave, check for closures due to vibrio, biotoxins, and pollution.
  • Harvest shellfish as soon as possible with the receding tide.
  • Don’t harvest shellfish that have been exposed to the sun for more than one hour (less in really hot weather).
  • Keep shellfish cold after harvesting.
  • More shellfish safety tips