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Food Safety Focus (23rd Issue, June 2008) – Food Incident Highlight

Vibrio vulnificus and Food Safety

On 30 April 2008, the Singapore authority informed traders that all oysters imported from Port Douglas in Australia had to be sampled and tested before entering the market because of the detection of the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus.

Vibrio vulnificus are bacteria mainly found in sea and brackish water (e.g. estuary). They are often associated with fish and shellfish like oysters, clams and crabs.

These bacteria can cause wound infections when they enter body through cuts caused by corals and marine animals or when an open wound comes into contact with the bacteria. When a healthy individual consumes foods that contain the bacteria, it can cause gastrointestinal infection. On the other hand, the bacteria can cause primary septicaemia in people with weakened immunity or underlying chronic diseases, especially liver diseases.

People who have chronic diseases should not consume raw or undercooked seafood. People who handle raw seafood should use protective gears like gloves.