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Strain questions FDA oyster ruling

October 30, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the United States Food and Drug Administration’s plan to ban the sales of unprocessed raw oysters during the months of April through October would cripple the Louisiana oyster industry.
“The FDA intentions are good but why do we need government intervention when the Louisiana oyster industry is doing a great job of self-regulating their business?” Strain said. “The Louisiana oyster industry has worked with the FDA for decades to develop procedures to protect and inform the oyster consumer, so for the FDA to come out with this announcement without consulting the industry is questionable.
“The oyster bed is a big economic driver for coastal towns like Chauvin, Port Sulphur, Buras and Galliano. The FDA proposal would have a disastrous effect on the thousands of oyster fishers and plant workers who live in our coastal parishes and the network of oyster bars and restaurants across the Gulf Coast. In 2008, the Louisiana oyster industry provided a $318 million impact to the state’s economy.
“Food safety is a major concern for Louisiana residents. Our Louisiana oyster industry has made giant strides in educating the consumer against food-borne illness caused by the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. I think the science to detect the presence of the bacteria and evaluate the risks can be further developed.
“The FDA did not analyze the economic impact their ruling would have on the Louisiana and Gulf Coast oyster industry. I urge the FDA to reconsider before finalizing this new regulation.”
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