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42nd St. Oyster Bar owner blames Louisiana oysters for sickness

Posted December 22, 2009
Updated December 24, 2009

42nd St. Oyster Bar, on West Jones Street in downtown Raleigh
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— Steamed oysters shipped from Louisiana likely caused illness among dozens of people who had eaten at the 42nd St. Oyster Bar in downtown Raleigh, restaurant owner Brad Hurley said Tuesday.

42nd St. Oyster Bar Health officials probe sickness at 42nd St. Oyster Bar

About 40 people have reported getting sick after eating at the popular restaurant on West Jones Street, said Andre Pierce, Wake County's environmental health and safety director. The complaints started on Nov. 30, and the frequency picked up in the past few days.

Public health officials are still investigating the illness outbreak and haven't determined the cause, Pierce said.

Mike Fields and his wife ate steamed oysters at the 42nd St. Oyster Bar a week ago. She didn't get sick, but he did.

"Wednesday evening, I started feeling really bad. All of a sudden, I got so violently ill, we had to go to the emergency room," said Fields, whose eyes were still red from the illness a week later.

"I felt so bad I thought maybe this could be the end," he added.

The county health department and restaurant launched investigations and interviewed patrons.

"The common thread has been that people have eaten steamed oysters, and we've isolated it down to all of those steamed oysters coming out of Louisiana," Hurley said.

After the Louisiana oysters were tied to the illness, the restaurant immediately stopped serving them and started using only oysters from North Carolina, he said.

Pierce said that action is the appropriate response.

"Voluntary segregation of product is certainly appropriate now to alleviate the risk to the public," he said. "That doesn't mean you close the restaurant."

Hurley apologized to customers and said he has never experienced a problem like this before at his restaurant.

"We've never had any issues like this before in the 22 years that we've been doing business," he said. "Nothing that would come close to this."

The restaurant is cooperating fully with the county's investigation, Pierce said.

Health workers are trying to determine what in the oysters caused people to become ill and are evaluating cases and symptoms. Anyone who has eaten at the restaurant in the past two weeks and later felt ill is asked to call the county health department at 919-856-7400.

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  • DickHefner Dec 23, 2009

    The oyster bar is a safe place to eat. Eating raw or slightly cooked oysters isn't a great idea. Get them steamed well. They're great!

  • cary1969 Dec 23, 2009

    this place wasn't that good to begin with

  • SkepticalGirl Dec 23, 2009

    I just wonder why it took over 2 weeks for the news to get out that the oysters are bad? Shouldn't it have come out within 4-5 days max that people were sick after eating there?

  • endlessnameless Dec 23, 2009

    The people ate steamed oysters if they were prepared properly they should have had no problems. If the oysters were old or handled improperly then I would say its the restaurant. I'm only saying properly cooked oysters should be fine. I'll wait for the investigation to be completed, the article seems to blame LA oysters and not hold the restaurant at fault, though it could be. I don't know maybe the oysters are full of a chemical toxin. Because a place handles oysters for 22 years doesn't mean it can't make a mistake. All I'm saying is just because an oyster is from LA doesn't automatically mean its bad.

  • EverythingTicksMeOff Dec 23, 2009

    Snakeandnape, yeah, blame the restaurant who's been handling oysters for 22 years without incident. Makes a lot of sense. How about waiting to find out what the investigation shows?

  • time4real Dec 23, 2009

    good to know even the better eat joints can get a bad rating from Monica LaBusyBody!

  • PC is for Losers Dec 23, 2009

    Oh, and I've gotten sick as a dog from Wholefoods offerings...don't think they are immune.

  • PC is for Losers Dec 23, 2009

    42nd St. forever got their oysters from Apalachicola, FL. Ate there many times and got the steamed oysters just lightly steamed to keep them fat and juicy. Wonder why they stopped - although I always accepted the risk. Usually eat the oysters from Maryland on the half shell. Just now getting back into eating shellfish from NC coast because of all the hog waste/chemicals washed out from the hurricanes. All coastal areas have washouts now, so it's worth the risk if you enjoy seafood.

  • ncguy Dec 23, 2009

    I got sick there one time.

    I received the Check!

  • maggieknowlya Dec 23, 2009

    Nancy,I'll have to wait until later when I get home to follow that link. Have emailed it to my personal emal.

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