American Mussel Harvesters
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It is only Ok to Eat Oysters during months with an "R"

March 22, 2021

There is an inaccurate myth that has been spread around over the years stating oysters are only safe to eat during months containing an "R". September- April is the range; these months encompass the colder times of the year; therefore, oysters will be safe to eat raw during the winter season.

There is some deep-seated wisdom in that statement, especially when thinking about times before refrigeration. Throughout the years, wild oyster populations have sustained hungry humans with no money to buy food.

Before the 1900’s there was no way to keep oysters cold after you harvested them, so they were subjected to the elements and if kept out in the sun too long would surely spoil. That is one of the reasons why oyster cellars were the hot spots in the 1800’s for the tasty bivalves to be consumed. They were darker and cooler than an above ground restaurant, so slightly better conditions to hold shellfish. Another way our oyster loving forefathers got around the lack of refrigeration was a variety of preparations that would cook out anything harmful but leave the salty savory protein rich meats. These recipes included soups, casseroles, and pickling.

In our modern world there are strict practices that require ice and refrigeration at all times of the year and completely dissolve the myth that oysters can only be eaten raw during months with an "R". Any facility with the license to sell oysters will require an approved HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) plan that specifically tells them how to safely distribute shellfish.  It is always important to know safe handling practices after you purchase the fresh oysters and always keep them cold. However, if you can manage a cooler and some ice, it is safe to bring them to your Fourth of July party on the beach, a Memorial Day BBQ in the back yard, or a birthday party in mid-August. There is nothing better than some cold refreshing Beaver Tail oysters, and a pint of beer on a hot summer day.

Oysters available here EVERY month!

Click here for Shellfish Care Instructions