Can you get sick from fried oysters?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: July 21, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

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Can you get sick from fried oysters?

It’s no secret that oysters are one of the most popular food items at restaurants. It is also no surprise that they’re delicious if fried. But, can you get sick from eating these? 

There is no definite answer. But yes, you can get sick from fried oysters due to a couple of reasons. Still, it depends on many factors including where the shellfish came from and how it was prepared which makes it difficult to give a definitive yes or no answer.

However, professional oyster shuckers usually know exactly what they’re doing so there is less risk than with people who don’t eat oysters often but for those who feel like trying them out.

There’s so much to discuss eating fried oysters in this blog post.

Let’s get started!

Read more: Can you use fried chicken bones for bone broth?

What are oysters? Are they fish?

These two questions are the most asked questions on web pages, especially the later ones. To begin with, oysters are DEFINITELY not fish!

Although commonly referred to as ‘seafood’, they’re actually invertebrates. In fact, there is no evidence showing that they evolved from fish. They belong to the family Ostreidae and their most closely related relative is a type of clam.

Their exact place of origin is not known, but it is believed to be around the Atlantic coasts of North America or Western Europe.

Oysters are eaten in several countries worldwide although America is said to be the biggest consumer.

10 Reasons why eating fried oysters make you sick

Food poisoning

Oysters can definitely give you food poisoning. They’re filter feeders, meaning they suck in water and filter out anything they want to eat and expel the rest through their gills and this includes any bacteria in it. The problem with this is that they might accidentally ingest harmful bacteria, lead, mercury, or even sewage.


They are commonly associated with Vibrio vulnificus which is a bacterium that can actually infect people who eat improperly fried oysters either by the shell or through the water in which they were stored. It causes serious diarrhea and vomiting with blood in some cases.

Presence of bacteria

Other bacterial infections include Shigella, Salmonella, and Campylobacter which are also spread through the water they’re stored in. In addition, they can carry parasites such as Anisakis simplex which produce a toxin that then triggers certain reactions when consumed making the person sicker than he already is.

Allergic reaction

What makes it worse is that these people might also be allergic to oysters. This can result in severe illness and eventually death if left untreated.

Toxic algae blooms

These are caused by a type of toxin-producing bacteria that you cannot see so it’s hard to know whether the shellfish contains such or not. The most common of these is the red tide or red algae which is responsible for shellfish poisoning.


The Vibrio Vulnificus bacterium, as stated above, can also cause death in people with liver disease or cancer. It can actually destroy the tissue in your gut if left untreated too.

Harmful for diabetic patients

In addition, those who have diabetes should avoid eating fried oysters due to the presence of high glucose levels that can cause further complications.

Possible connections with cancer

According to recent research, this food might also lead to breast cancer if consumed often. The results were presented at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

It is said that three species of oysters were used as samples and tested for their nutritional value which included iron, calcium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. All these substances are said to increase the risk of breast cancer in those who have been diagnosed with it or those who have a family history of this condition.

Presence of parasite

In addition to the chemicals found in oysters, there is also Anisakis simplex which can be transmitted from raw or undercooked mollusks.

While it’s not yet known whether this parasite is definitely linked with acute reactions such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea, it cannot hurt to exercise caution especially for those who have weak immune systems.

Severe weakness

Oysters are not only dangerous to the ones who eat them because they might actually get ill, but to those who harvest them. This is because it can cause serious infections if exposed to the mucus of these mollusks.

Read More: Can you get food poisoning from fried calamari?

Prevents and solutions

”Is there anything I can do to prevent sickness?” If you love eating fried oysters, this question might have run through your head a number of times.

The good news is that you can still enjoy this delicacy without worrying too much about food poisoning and any other possible health issues caused by consuming it, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:

Buy oysters carefully

Buy oysters from a reputable dealer. This will give you peace of mind knowing that you’re getting the freshest and safest oysters possible. If you’re buying from a fisherman, ask to see identification before purchasing anything from him.

Ensure that they are alive

Another way of ensuring quality is making sure that your oysters are still alive when you buy them. Ingesting dead animals can make you sick. Note that here alive means fresh. Oysters don’t have brains so they don’t feel pain or any other sensation.

Fry/cook them well

In order to kill the bacteria present in this food so you can prevent illness, make sure that fried oysters are well-cooked. This also prevents the parasites from coming alive inside your stomach.

Cook until they’re brown and crispy

If you want to be sure that they’re cooked enough, fry them until they turn into a dark brown color. If you get bored with the traditional way of cooking, try adding other ingredients to make something new and interesting.

Say no to raw oyster

Eating raw oysters is a big no-no. In fact, the shellfish must be cooked well enough that it’s crispy before consuming it. It is best if you don’t eat it raw too so bacteria won’t have a chance to spread.

How long after eating oysters can you get sick?

Again. It depends. The illness can come within one hour to as long as 10 days after consumption of oysters. This can vary depending on the types and conditions of the bacteria that entered your body with the tainted food.

It depends from person to person. If you have a strong immune system, it can take as short as an hour for your body to clear the bacteria in your gut. However if your defense mechanism is weak, it will take at least 10 days or perhaps even longer so be sure to seek medical help in this case immediately.

Well, in case if you have gotten sick after eating oysters, here’s what you can do:

  • Isolate

The very first thing to do when you’ve been diagnosed with this condition is to isolate yourself from the rest of the people. You shouldn’t be in contact with any other person, especially those who have weak immune systems such as young children and older adults.

  • Hydrate

In addition to this, keeping your body well-hydrated by drinking lots of water or other fluids can help your body fight this condition.

  • Rest

You should also get a sufficient amount of sleep and take a break from work at least for a while to allow yourself to recover quickly and completely.

Why do cooked oysters make me sick?

That’s a very important one. Now that you know that raw oysters can be even fatal for you, let’s probe why cooked oysters make you sick.

Seafood is among the most favorite type of food for many people, especially when they are stressed out. Unfortunately, these types of food can carry pathogenic bacteria that can make you sick and sometimes even cause fatal conditions like septicemia (blood poisoning) or peritonitis (inflammation in the lining of the abdominal region).

At times, when you leave oysters soaked in warm water before cooking, they absorb the bacteria in the water making them even more unsafe to eat.

Other times, you cook/ fry them hurriedly without waiting for the brine inside the oyster to separate. If you’re not careful, this can cause you to ingest pathogenic bacteria that are present in this type of food.

One last thing though. Cooking is not always enough so if symptoms persist even after taking prescribed medications, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

In summary, eating cooked oysters can make you sick because they can carry bacteria that are hazardous to your health. As long as you follow the advice in this article, you should be able to minimize or prevent illness related to eating raw oysters.

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