A product embargo prohibits businesses from using a product suspected of causing illness until a determination is made on the safety of the product. The department received reports of sporadic illnesses (11 total) in September, October, and November of this year that appeared to be linked to the consumption of raw oysters. Samples of the suspect oysters were sent to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory in Alabama for testing, and the samples tested positive for Norovirus. With the positive lab results, DOH has ordered all of the embargoed product held by distributors and restaurants to be destroyed.
Norovirus symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headaches with onset usually within 12-48 hrs after consuming contaminated food. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a physician and if foodborne illness is suspected, report it to the DOH Disease Investigation Branch at (808) 586-4586.
Department of Health food rules effective February 2014 require a consumer advisory at the point of sale for any restaurant or eatery serving raw or undercooked foods. The advisory states, “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.” Pregnant or immunocompromised individuals are also advised not to consume any raw or undercooked foods.