- Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections in the United States have been linked to consumption of raw oysters. Depuration has the potential to reduce contamination in live oysters after harvest. This study investigated the impact of depuration flow rate to reduce V. parahaemolyticus in raw oysters. Pacific oysters (n = 35 per trial) were inoculated with a cocktail of V. parahaemolyticus (10290, 10292, 10293, BE 98-2029, and 027-1c1) in freshly prepared artificial seawater (70 L). The inoculated oysters were depurated with flow rates of 15, 20, 25, and 35 L/min at 12.5 degrees C for up to 5 days and V. parahaemolyticus contamination was determined using a three-tube most probable number (MPN) method. V. parahaemolyticus reductions were as flow rate moderately increased from 15 L/min (2.39 log MPN/g reduction in 5 days) to 35 L/min (3.39 log MPN/g reduction). These results suggest that depuration efficacy can be enhanced by increasing depuration flow rate to 35 L/min.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus can contaminate raw shellfish, including oysters, during their production and lead to outbreaks of foodborne illness. Depuration, a post-harvest process, may be used by the shellfish industry to reduce the persistence of V. parahaemolyticus. Previous studies have demonstrated that the depuration process can reduce V. parahaemolyticus in oysters; however, further optimization of the process is necessary to achieve US Food Drug Administration's targeted reduction goal (>3.52 log MPN/g). This study evaluated the impact of depuration flow rate on the reduction of V. parahaemolyticus in Pacific oysters. Increasing flow rates (15-35 L/min) during depuration enhanced the clearance of V. parahaemolyticus in these oysters; however, these conditions were unable to consistently achieve the target of >3.52 log MPN/g reduction. This study provides a reference for the industry on the variability of V. parahaemolyticus in individual oysters and demonstrates that practical modifications (i.e., flow rate) can be implemented in depuration systems to maximize bacterial clearance.