Regulation of the Day 67: Oysters

My colleague Richard Morrison brought to my attention a new FDA rule that requires oysters harvested between April and October to be sterilized before they are eaten. The goal is to prevent a rare – and sometimes fatal – bacteria from harming anyone.

An unintended consequence is that the state of Louisiana is up in arms. The sterilization rule essentially bans raw oysters, a local delicacy, for seven months every year. Sterilization also affects the flavor of cooked oysters, a common ingredient in Cajun cooking.

Restaurateurs are livid. One describes the rule as “ludicrous.”Another calls it “a nuclear bomb” for the oyster industry. State officials are also upset, and have issued strongly worded statements opposing the rule.