2:36pm

Mon August 27, 2012
EAST BAY EXPRESS

Dianne Feinstein's Bad Oysters

Dianne Feinstein and other influential backers of a Point Reyes oyster farm have at times justified their support for it by contending that it's an environmentally friendly business. Feinstein and others have made this assertion in their attempt to convince the federal government to extend the oyster farm's lease at Point Reyes National Seashore, a move that would block the creation of the first marine wilderness on the West Coast. However, evidence is emerging that raises doubts about Drakes Bay Oyster Farm — specifically, whether the company has engaged in unsafe health practices that have sickened numerous Bay Area residents.

As the Express reported law week, California public health officials blamed Drakes Bay oysters for a recent outbreak of the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which sickened at least three people. The bacteria causes violent bouts of vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and chills. The bad oysters prompted state officials to warn consumers not to eat oysters from Drakes Bay, and resulted in the company enacting a recall of its shucked and in-shell raw oysters.

Now, public records have emerged that link Drakes Bay oysters to widespread illness following last year's San Francisco Oysterfest at Fort Mason. Numerous festival attendees became violently ill after the event, suffering for days from vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and chills. Records obtained by Marin County environmentalists who closely monitor Drakes Bay Oyster Company show that California public health officials blamed the outbreak at the Oysterfest on the bacterium campylobacter.

Public health officials and Oysterfest attendees immediately suspected Drakes Bay was responsible for the outbreak, because the company supplied most of the oysters at the event, and because it staffed it. On Yelp, numerous commenters, who said they had become very sick after the event, directed their outrage at Drakes Bay.

Read more at EastBayExpress.org.

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