We don’t usually get too alarmed when we suffer from food poisoning but it does carry the risk of being fatal. Recently, a man lost his life after getting food poisoning from ingesting a raw oyster. As per the reports of the Sun Sentinel, the incident took place at Fort Lauderdale’s Rustic Inn Crabhouse. Gary Oreal, the restaurant’s manager, had explained later on that the unfortunate victim was a former worker at the restaurant.
He had left the place about two decades ago. On that day, the man had accompanied his family to eat at the place. Oreal further stated that it was the first time hearing a customer get sick from eating oysters at his place. Furthermore, in his interview with the Sun Sentinel, Oreal added that at least 1200 oysters were served on the same day. However, there were no other such reports of food poisoning.
A Deadly Case Of Food Poisoning
The bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, is believed to have been the cause of death. Undercooked or raw seafood, such as oysters, are usual locations of this bacteria. The Florida Health Department also confirmed that a death involving this bacteria was under investigation.
The unfortunate man’s identity or exact method of infection has remained confidential. However, according to July 2022 records, inspectors had paid a visit to Gary Oreal’s restaurant following a report of a customer falling sick after ingesting raw oysters. According to the inspection, the customer visited the restaurant on July 20th. After eight days, the health department received a complaint about the same.
Oreal confirmed that inspectors had inspected the kitchen as well as the restaurant’s inventory of oysters on the day following the man’s hospitalization. However, they found everything exceeded the standards and allowed the restaurant to continue selling oysters. Oreal also added that the present oysters come from Louisiana. This means that any problem would not have gone unnoticed since other customers would have also suffered similar food poisoning.
However, according to Oreal, “Oysters are top of the mountain for dangerous foods to eat. I have eaten them my entire life, and will continue. But you are putting yourself at risk when you do it.” As per the Florida Health Department’s website, 2022 had seen 26 cases of Florida citizens suffering from Vibrio vulnificus infections. Out of them, 6 became seriously ill and could not be saved. According to Oreal, over the period of 6 decades, the restaurant has served several billion oysters. Unfortunately, this was the first time a customer got so fatally sick.
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A Risk That Remains With Every Bite
In a possibly related incident, a Pensacola man had lost his life after suffering from a bacterial infection. He had contracted it from Louisiana oysters he acquired from a market. The CDC explains that oysters containing this potentially deadly bacteria are impossible to distinguish from safe ones. However, there is a higher chance of them appearing between May and October because of the warmer water temperatures.
Florida International University Epidemiology Professor, Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, explains that this bacterial problem has existed for years. As such, any instances of eating undercooked or raw seafood carry this risk. However, she also added that this is why restaurants usually warn their customers that undercooked, raw seafood can be dangerous on their menus. Dr. Trepka added that such infections are considerably rare, but immunocompromised people or people with chronic liver diseases face the highest risk of suffering a fatal infection.
The Fort Lauderdale inspection had found that such oyster-specific advisories were missing from the restaurant’s menus. However, Oreal later confirmed that the restaurant had since made sure of putting up ample signage warning customers of the dangerous food poisoning that can accompany raw oysters.
According to CDC estimates, in the United States, approximately 80,000 people annually contract this infection. Approximately 100 of them die because of it. The popular Fort Lauderdale seafood restaurant serves around 500 to 1000 customers per day during this period of the year.
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- “Man Dead After Eating Raw Oyster at Seafood Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale: Report.” NBC Miami. August 16, 2022.
- “Warning for shellfish lovers after man dies of bacterial infection due to eating raw oysters at Broward restaurant.” CBS News. Joan Murray. August 17, 2022.
- “Oysters and Vibriosis.” CDC.
- “Pensacola community leader died from Vibrio infection. What you should know about the bacteria.” PNJ. Brittany Misencik. August 11, 2022.
- “Florida man dies after eating raw oyster at Rustic Inn seafood restaurant.” Sun