This arrived in our email box today. It is pretty much dead on. "A target of opportunity"...much like the rest of the commercial fishing industry that our government seems determined to put completely out of work.
“Get out of our gumbo,” the Times-Picayune of New Orleans told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this morning in response to the FDA’s move against raw Gulf of Mexico oysters.
Great headline and the right position for the newspaper to take though one I am not convinced many would support in an era in which peanut bans have become commonplace.
Beginning in 2011, the FDA says gulf oysters harvested from April through October must go through a sterilization process to eradicate bacteria, in particular, Vibrio vulnificus.
Vibrio can cause a potentially fatal infection for people who have a compromised immune system, for instance as a result of AIDS, liver or kidney disease, cancer or diabetes.
Treating the oysters would be expensive and, in the opinion of many, detrimental to their taste. Without question, the FDA’s rule would have a devastating effect on restaurants along the Gulf Coast, no more so than in Louisiana.
I suspect most folks suffering immunodeficiency are aware of the particular dietary risks they face. But to be sure, a targeted warning could be implemented. Would some people who ought to comply ignore such a warning? Almost certainly. Does that justify the FDA’s action? Certainly not.
It’s almost as though the relatively small community of gulf oystermen is a target of opportunity. No one has banned hamburg, despite E. coli; chicken, despite salmonella; nor cigarettes, cheap whiskey or beer.
The office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says that in 2008, there were more than 87 million cases of food-related illnesses, resulting in 371,000 hospitalizations and 5,700 deaths. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 people with pre-existing conditions died from eating raw oysters.
A more proportionate response to the risk of Vibrio is in order.
Thank you for your time.
Editor & Publisher, National Fisherman