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May 22, 2009 09:26 AM

Are raw oysters safe to eat in May?

It may sound silly, but I was just told by a Texan that as a rule, folks only ate oysters in the "R" months when they were in season and that the old school safety mentality would dictate that raw oysters could be dangerous this time of year.

When oysters are out of season in Nola, where do they come from? Do people actually avoid eating them raw in the summer? Probably good to know before I gorge on a pile on my first night in Nola!

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  1. i am going to NOLA in june -- and i told people if they need to reach me I will be busy eating oysters.

    i believe this was followed before there was referigeration

    3 Replies
    1. re: radman123

      We eat them year round without any problems. They may get a little "milky" in .August. They pose no grerater health risk in non :R" months.

      1. re: JazzyB

        Worked at a marine lab and know the risks. But more so ... Too many people that have got sick including me from no opened or bad seafood. Never take a chance.

        1. re: JazzyB

          I realize the economics of oystermen needing an income year round but I wish they'd pick up, say, crabbing and leave teh summer oysters alone. They are so much better in winter & I hate to see a plate of July or August oysters that are sacrificied when they'd be SO much better in just a few months.

      2. I grew up in Louisiana and my family has always eaten raw oysters mainly in cooler months, and switched to cooked, fried, broiled etc over the summer. I don't necessarily follow the "R" rule We usually eat them raw until April. They are available in May and June, but not at their prime to say the least. I think everyone has their own opinion about this and it may be hard to get a definitive answer. You will probably be okay to eat them in June, but if it were me I would stick to the cooked variety, as the quality you would anticipate may not be there this time of year. Good luck!

        5 Replies
        1. re: ScarlettNola

          Thanks! We're probably not getting to our FQ hotel until around 10:00 p.m., if all goes as planned tomorrow. Other than Acme, could you recommend any other late night food (that might have oysters and worthy of being one of our 7 Nola meals) in the FQ? I'm surprised that so many restaurants close before 10 p.m.

          1. re: eugenegirl

            Coop's on Decatur generally serves food until midnight. Try the jambalaya. Clover Grill is open all night, but is more "diner food", so Coop's would be my number 1 choice for late night dining in the Quarter.

            1. re: ScarlettNola

              We must be on the same wavelength, because Coop's was my next thought!

            2. re: eugenegirl

              Royal House at 441 Royal has an oyster bar ... relatively new place. Not sure how late they're open but you might give them a call. 528-2601

              1. re: eugenegirl

                This is too late I'm sure, but I'd skip Coop's, Clover Grill as mentioned and La Peniche on Dauphine at Touro is open 24 hours Thurs thru Tues I believe.....

                La Peniche
                1940 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                Clover Grill
                900 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116

            3. Vibrio vulnificu is the bacteria found in oysters that causes illness. It's always present, but studies have shown that it's more prevalent in warmer, summer waters.

              Luckily, cooking the oysters kills off the bacteria.

              Personally, I avoid raw oysters in the summer months. I'm healthy enough that an encounter with the bacteria would just be unpleasant. My fear, though, is that getting sick on oysters might cause me to have a negative, psychological reaction to them in the future. I more afraid of developing an aversion to oysters than I am of the illness itself.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Frolic

                Ha! I hear you on that one. I think I'll stick to my lovely Pacific Northwest oysters when I need to slurp a raw one, for now.

                1. re: eugenegirl

                  I've have your Pacific Northwest oysters. At $2-3$ a piece they're pretty hard to choke down for economic reasons. Pleasant apart from that, though much smaller and less flavorful!

                2. re: Frolic

                  The warmer months definitely make a difference in the oysters. I agree on the psychological effect though. I got sick once and now no matter how good the oysters are, the 1st one is always a bear to get down - I stick with mine charbroiled when I visit my family in the summer months.

                  1. re: Frolic

                    And to be honest, raw oysters just dont taste as good in the summer, following their natural progression of taste. I thad some two nights ago at La Cote, sure they were good, but lacked that salt driven intensity that makes Gulf oysters, gulf oysters.

                    1. re: Frolic

                      Yep, frying kills the vibrio right off. Good excuse to eat fried oyster poboys rather than raw at this time of year.

                      1. re: Hungry Celeste

                        Wrong, it can and may kill off most of the vibrio. Never been proven and in fact has been proven that NOT all the vibrio is killed. So there is still a chance that it is present and during a red tide, warmer waters this can be vary prevalent. Even though the beds are not closed bi valves are susceptible and people with compromised immune systems, or poor health, had hepatitis, liver problems or many other conditions just old age can cause them to become ill and possible death.

                        Why even risk it. I admit to eating them but lately I never take a chance after my friend was deathly ill. 40 and perfectly healthy and it healthy and fresh tasting. Never again.

                        I can cite a few sites state and national tht confirm these finding but I'm not at home so it would be later tonight. But you can look it up and find similar findings.

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          Red tide? I think you're confused. And proper cooking does eliminate the risk. Improper cooking, of course, does not. I eat them year round, and routinely, with no worries. Points about the varying taste are well made. Also confused about whether the oyster or your friend was 40, healthy, and fresh tasting.

                    2. FL, but ditto on the cooler months fresh, warmer months, I like broasted or grilled. But I do eat raw now and then but usually at a reputable restaurant where the oysters are shipped in, not local. But I have taken a chance and had raw during warmer season. Early May I would think is ok, but use your own judgement

                      1. I have read that oysters are indeed safe to eat year round. It's only that the summer months are their spawning season so the taste and flavor may be less than wonderful..

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Gio

                          No, Gulf oysters don't have a spawning season because the water never gets that cold. They spawn year round.