The USDA is funding a study that seeks to find out what causes Vibrio levels to rise in farmed oysters, a bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses in people who eat raw or undercooked shellfish.
Dr Bill Walton of Auburn University will focus his study on oysters raised using off-bottom farming technique. The technique involves raising the baskets of oysters from the water once a week to air-dry them to prevent barnacles and other invasive species from attaching themselves to the oysters. Walton will find out whether an oyster farm’s geographic location, handling practices, and choice of equipment affect Vibrio levels in these oysters.
“Through his project, Walton should generate valuable data for Gulf Coast oyster farmers, who focus on producing exceptional oysters for high-end markets, such as upscale restaurants that offer the farmed bivalve mollusks on the half shell,” Auburn University said in a press release.
The USDA has given more than $450,000 for the three-year research project.