Shellfish Sanitation

Photo: E. Coli Bacteria.

What are pathogenic Bacteria?

Bacteria are everywhere, and are an important part of our world. There are many kinds of bacteria that live inside humans, and help their systems to function properly. However, some bacteria can cause human illness, and those are called pathogenic. Certain strains of E. coli (Escherichia coli, pictured above) are pathogenic, and are the most common cause of bacterial diarrhea. Fish and shellfish from areas with high bacteria levels, or that have been improperly handled are at higher risk for transmitting pathogenic bacteria to people. Federal and state regulations exist to restrict the harvest of fish and shellfish from unsafe waters, and to ensure sanitary handling of raw food.

(photo credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)

FDA Report on Raw Oysters

July 19, 2005 - The US Food and Drug Administration/CFSAN has recently released a technical report and summary of risk associated with the bacteria Vibrio in raw oysters.

Other Sanitation Information

Thurston County, Washington has a fact sheet that explains bacterial contamination of shellfish. To visit their website click here .

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring is responsible for the monitoring and classification of shellfish waters in New Jersey.

The USFDA/ Consumer Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) establishes regulations on the sanitation and safety of seafood under program called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences