After a whirlwind month for the Gulf Coast oyster industry, with stringent food safety requirements on raw oysters coming and then going nine days ago, restaurant owners, oyster dealers and lovers of the salty raw delicacy are resting easier.
But while the Food and Drug Administration has backed down – for now – from the proposed 2011 bacterial treatment requirements for raw oysters in warmer months, the debate has shed light on a growing segment of Gulf oyster production that has sold treated oysters throughout the country for more than a decade.
Most raw oyster aficionados have likely never come across the processed oysters at any local eateries. The two largest Gulf Coast companies that sell treated oysters on the halfshell during warm months – one in Houma and one in Franklin – have had success mostly with national wholesalers and out-of-state restaurant and hotel groups. Although the technology has been established for years, the process has had its share of controversy, leading to internal industry feuds and disagreements over the dangers of raw oysters.
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