A partnership between scientists at the LSU Agricultural Center and entrepreneurs in Louisiana’s oyster industry has resulted in a revival of the Gulf Coast raw oyster. Louisiana had been a key supplier of this product. But its marketing was threatened by fears that a deadly microorganism, named Vibrio vulnificus, might be lurking inside the shell. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had required the oysters to carry a warning – strong enough that people did not want to buy them. Research scientists with the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Food Science in cooperation with an industrial firm, AmeriPure Oyster Processing Co., solved the problem. They came up with a heating process, similar to the pasteurization of raw milk, that killed the offending microorganism without hurting the texture or flavor of a raw oyster. The process works so well that the FDA has lifted the warning label on pasteurized raw oysters. AmeriPure owns the patent for the process.
(This article was published in the spring 2000 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)