Press Release

May 21, 2012


Contaminated Korean Molluscan Shellfish – Oysters, Clams, Mussels and Scallops

FDA recommends getting rid of these products

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging the public to throw out any oysters, clams, mussels or scallops from Korea that you have in your refrigerator or freezer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found significant problems including:

  • ineffective management of land-based pollution sources that can impact shellfish growing areas;

  • inadequate sanitary controls to prevent the discharge of human fecal waste from fish farms and commercial fishing and aquaculture vessels operating in and adjacent to shellfish growing areas; and

  • detection of norovirus in shellfish growing areas analyzed by FDA during the evaluation.

Because of inadequate sanitation controls, the molluscan shellfish harvested from Korean waters may have been exposed to human fecal waste and have the potential to be contaminated with norovirus. Importation of molluscan shellfish harvested from polluted waters in Korea was stopped May 1.

Korean molluscan shellfish that entered the United States prior to May 1 and any product made with Korean molluscan shellfish are considered adulterated. The FDA recommends that food distributors, retailers, and food service operators get rid of all fresh, frozen, and processed Korean molluscan shellfish and any product subsequently made with them.  The FDA is currently working to determine the distribution of the product.

Consumers who have recently bought molluscan shellfish and are concerned it may have come from Korea, should contact the store from which it was purchased and ask where the shellfish were harvested.  Product from Korea should not be consumed.

Noroviruses are a group of related viruses that affect the intestinal tract causing gastroenteritis illness. Symptoms usually occur between 24 hours and 48 hours after exposure and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, body aches, headache, tiredness and low-grade fever. Symptoms typically last a day or two and subside on their own. Norovirus is usually not life-threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects.

No U.S. illnesses from the consumption of Korean shellfish have been reported in 2012. 

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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