Norovirus found in majority of British oysters: study

Three-quarters of British-grown oysters contain norovirus, a bug which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, according to new research published on Tuesday by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

But the government warned that their tests did not reveal the extent of infectious norovirus, the strain that makes people ill.

Nor could they say how effective various before and after harvesting were in getting rid of the virus, explaining that their study will contribute to a Europe-wide review of the problem.

The two-year study looking at samples from 39 oyster harvesting areas across Britain found 76 percent off oysters straight off the bed contained norovirus.

"It is difficult to assess the potential of these findings, as the available research techniques are not able to differentiate between infectious and non-infectious norovirus material within the oysters," the FSA said in a statement.

"Furthermore, a safe limit for norovirus has not been established."

In 2009, the Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant of top British chef Heston Blumenthal was forced to close after more than 500 people fell ill with norovirus. Raw oysters and clams were later identified as the main source.

Oysters filter large volumes of water to get their food, and any and viruses in the water can build up within them. They are subject to controls before and after harvesting which help remove these.

is the most common viral cause of diarrhoea and vomiting in Britain, but is generally mild and most people recover within a few days.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NBA players not immune to serious illness from norovirus

Oct 31, 2011

A new study describes a 2010 outbreak involving several NBA teams, the first known report of a norovirus outbreak in a professional sports association. Published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online, the st ...

11 million working days lost from stomach upset

Sep 07, 2011

Nearly 17 million people suffer from stomach upsets in the UK every year, leading to around 11 million lost working days, new research by The University of Manchester has found.

Recommended for you

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care (Update)

9 hours ago

President Barack Obama said Thursday 8 million Americans have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges, besting expectations and offering new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead ...

User comments