Seafood Safety Focus Of Workshop

Quality Poultry and Seafood manager Todd Rosetti can tell you maintaining the health and quality of the seafood he handles is a well regulated and year round regiment.

"The product that were getting is regulated by the Department of Marine Resources and through federally funded projects."

He can also tell you following stringent quality controls is a must to keep seafood connoisseurs in good health and coming back for more.

"You know they have certain times that they have to be out of the water and certain times they have to be under refrigeration, and if all those guidelines are followed, the public really doesn't have anything to worry about."

But the real worry at the Department of Marine Resources and at Wednesday's workshop are the people who aren't following those guidelines.

"Over the past four years, we have not been able to reduce the number of illnesses through our educational efforts. We're just not reaching the people that need to be reached," says Dr. Linda Andrews, an Associate Professor at Mississippi State University.

Officials say those people include not only consumers, but the processors and restaurant workers who handle and serve seafood daily.

"There's many different stages at which that product could go bad, so you have to be careful," says Nick Apostle, President of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association.

And the number one focus of their worry is a tiny bacteria that kills every year.

"Vibrio Vulnificus, which is a naturally occurring bacteria in the Gulf Waters. And if you are a health compromised individual, you need to take care what you eat," says Jan Welker, seafood officer with the DMR's Seafood Technology Bureau.

Unprocessed seafood carries a warning to handle with care.

Information about the potential dangers of raw oyster consumption is available 24 hours a day from the FDA's Seafood Hotline at 1-800-332-4010.