New Directive Mandates Rapid Cooling for Oysters

Effective May 1st, the Washington State Department of Health has issued a new directive that requires the oyster fishing industry to get their catch on ice in less than half the time previously allowed.  Around 150 licensees who deal with oysters during the summer will be directly affected.  The rule change has the potential to significantly affect the industry, which brings in over $270 million to the Washington state economy.

Preventing the Risk of Disease

The rule is intended to increase the safety of oysters and prevent the outbreak of shellfish borne diseases such as the Vibrio bacterium.  During the summer months, the Vibrio bacterium becomes active due to warmer temperatures.  Two large outbreaks have occurred in the Washington area in 1997 and 2006.  These incidents were the source of between 40 and 50 illness related to Vibriosis, all of which could be traced back to the harvesting of commercial oysters.  Statistics presented an additional cause for concern: for every reported instance of Vibriosis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that an additional 156 cases went unreported.

Ice: An Effective Solution

Vibriosis multiplies rapidly in warm conditions. Some precautions that prevent the spread of this disease include cooking shellfish to an internal temperature of 145°F, harvesting shellfish as quickly as possible after the receding tide, and refraining from harvesting shellfish that have had more than an hour of exposure to the sun.  However, the most effective way to comply with the new mandate is to use ice.  A great deal of flake ice will need to be generated each day in order to ensure compliance and maintain current levels of productivity.  Jay Personius, the Port of Peninsula’s economic development officer, was quoted as saying that it would not be possible for current business levels “…to continue in the oyster fields this summer without hundreds of tons of ice.”

Superior Cooling with Howe Flake Ice Equipment

Local companies are working hard to ensure that that they have the tools they will need to comply with the new rule.  An extremely effective solution can be found in our ice making equipment.  At Howe Corporation, we have been providing flake ice machines to the seafood industry for generations.  Our Rapid Freeze® flake ice machines produce anywhere from 1,000 to 40,000 pounds of ice per day, able to handle our customers’ most challenging requirements.  In addition, our machines use water resources more efficiently than any other system and produce ice of the highest quality. Howe ice machines provide ice with greater surface contact area and cooling capacity than plate, tube, shell, or crushed ice.  Contact us today to find out more about how our machines help meet all levels of compliance while providing the best quality cooling available on the market.