TALLAHASSEE – Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced today that the department’s Division of Aquaculture has licensed Food Technology Services Incorporated (FTSI) in Mulberry, Florida, to use irradiation to produce safer oyster products. This is the first facility in the nation that has been formally recognized to use this special process since the original approval was issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005.
The process has been fully validated in commercial trials with some of the most current analytical procedures conducted by the University of Florida’s Food Science & Human Nutrition Department. It can reduce certain potentially harmful bacteria without altering the flavor and appearance of the live, raw oysters. The oysters are simply pre-packaged on pallets that are directly exposed for a very short time to a very specific and controlled amount of radiation that selectively kills certain types and amounts of bacteria. The problem of concern is the naturally occurring marine bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus, which can be found in oysters and seawater during warmer months. Vibrio vulnificus has caused serious illnesses and death in a very small number of consumers with high risk conditions such as chronic illness of the liver, stomach, blood or immune disorders.
“Providing this process for a safer food supply was a truly cooperative effort with participation by the department, FDA, FTSI, the University of Florida, and the Florida oyster industry,” Bronson said. “Irradiation offers a cost effective and energy efficient method for providing safer oyster products from Florida.”