So, I'm coming to SF next week and was planning to go to Hog Island at the Ferry building. I went last October by myself and had the most transforming meal of raw oysters (my first ever - a good place to start!) and the grilled cheese sandwich. (Much to my surprise, 6 months later the NYTimes recommended this exact lunch in an article about the Ferry building!)
Anyway, my mom, being the worrysome typical Jewish mother type, has told me I am not to eat any oysters from the West Coast. Is this really true? Have SF oyster bars been affected, and how so? I was really looking forward to my kumamotos!
My understanding is that there have been some problems (and a recall) with some Washington State oysters. In addition, after some warm weather here earlier this summer, it's been quite cool, especially along the coast, so the local oysters should be fine.
Hog Island isn't going to be risking it's reputation by selling you bad oysters, so I wouldn't worry about it. The only thing is, summer oysters -- while safe to eat -- may not be as good quality as those from months with "R" in them, so they may not live up to your October memories.
There was a Vibrio parahemolyticus outbreak in the Pacific Northwest (including some California cases in the last few weeks, I believe) due to the increased temperatures this summer and the FDA put out a warning against eating raw oysters, but I don't know what that means for restaurants.
FDA Increases Warning on Eating Raw Shellfish (Aug. 11, 2006): http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=230...
I just made a trek to try Drake's (formerly Johnson's) Oysters up at Pt. Reyes and checked the same warnings. They are indeed largely directed at the Washington state oysters. I checked with local Sonoma officials and was given the green light. That being said, they were excellent and my friends and I shucked and slurped through eight dozen with nary a bellyache :) Eat up and enjoy the visit!