Oyster rules to assure a safe product on your plate - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Oyster rules to assure a safe product on your plate

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

When oyster fishermen bring in their catch, there's a delicate dance that is required to happen from a boat to your plate.

Gary Lopinto of the Department of Health and Hospitals explains what fishermen must do.

"They require that oysters which are white tagged - these are the raw consumption oysters - be harvested and placed under mechanical refrigeration on a boat within one hour of harvest," he said.

Tagging is a way to trace oysters and determine just where they came from and how they are treated.

"The new rules require that the harvest is tagged with a number or a letter by lot for each hour of harvest that is placed in the cooler on the boat."

As summer months come along, there is a higher incidence of Vibrial contamination of the oysters. As water gets warmer, the bacteria tends to multiply. The bacteria can cause infection especially in people with compromised immune systems.

At Drago's, shuckers are busy making sure oysters are ready for customers. They work from tagged bags. Owner Tommy Cvitanovich says colors matter.

"We can only use either a white tag oyster at our bar or a fuchsia colored tag at our bar. It's only white tags that can be sold out of state. The fuchsia tags can be sold in state," said Cvitanovich.

The embattled delicacy is trying to rebound from the BP oil spill.

"Right now, availability is a little bit tighter. So obviously when there is a lower supply than the demand, then the price is going to go up."

He says right now he's paying the maximum that he's ever paid for oysters in sacks.

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