|Abstract or Summary
- Oysters are filter-feeding bivalves, which filter water for nutrients and often accumulate contaminants and human pathogens such as Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus naturally occurring in the marine environment. These naturally occurring pathogens have been frequently isolated from raw shellfish, particularly oyster, in the United States and are recognized as the leading causes of human gastroenteritis associated with seafood consumption. Human illness caused by consumption of raw oyster contaminated with V. parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus typically results in reduced sales of oysters and a consequent significant financial burden for the producers. The United States produces more than 27 million pounds of oysters each year with a large portion of them being produced from the coastal water of the Gulf of Mexico. It is estimated that 20 million Americans eat raw shellfish and consumption of raw oyster
is responsible for about 95% of all deaths associated with seafood consumption in the U.S., making raw oysters one of the most hazardous seafoods. Several post-harvest processes, including low temperature pasteurization, freezing, high pressure processing and irradiation, have been reported capable of reducing Vibrio contamination in raw oysters. However, most of them require either a significant amount of initial investment or operation costs, and oysters are often killed during processing. Cost-effective post-harvest processing for reducing V. parahaemolyticus in raw oysters without significant adverse effects on the oysters remains to be developed. This study was conducted to determine impacts of low-temperature (15, 10 and 5°C) depuration and frozen storage on reducing V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus in raw oysters. Depuration of the Gulf oyster (Crassostrea virginica) with electrolyzed oxidizing (EO) water (chlorine, 30 ppm; pH 2.82; oxidation-reduction potential, 1,131mV) containing 3% NaCl was found ineffective on reducing both V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus in the oysters. Reductions of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus in oyster after 48 h of EO water depuration at 22°C were limited to 0.7 and 1.4 log MPN/g, respectively. Depuration with EO water at lower temperatures did not enhance reductions of Vibrio in the oysters. Greater reductions of V. parahaemolyticus (1.2 log MPN/g) and V. vulnificus (2.0 log MPN/g) were observed when the oysters were depurated with artificial seawater (ASW) at room temperature (22°C) for 48 h. Decreasing temperature of ASW to 15°C for depuration significantly increased the reductions of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus to 2.1 and 2.9 log MPN/g, respectively, after 48 h of process. However, depuration of oyster in ASW at 10 and 5°C were found less effective than at 15°C in reducing Vibrio in
the Gulf oysters. An extended depuration with ASW at 15°C for 96 h was capable of achieving 2.6 and 3.3 log MPN/g of reductions of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus, respectively, in the Gulf oysters. Study of effects of frozen storage at -10, -23 and -30°C on reducing V. parahaemolyticus in raw half-shell Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) found that the population of the bacterium decreased faster in oysters stored at -10 than at -23 or -30°C. Holding half-shell Pacific oyster at -10°C for three months or at -23°C for four months was capable of achieving a greater than 3-log (MPN/g) reduction of V. parahaemolyticus in the Pacific oyster.