There is always a chance of bacterial or viral contamination when eating raw food. Pathogens received from ocean water are particularly likely to be present in oysters.

The likelihood of contracting an illness from eating raw shellfish has increased due to warming waters and population growth. Slurping raw oysters straight off the shell is a popular pastime.

According to food safety lawyer Bill Marler, cases of foodborne disease connected to raw shellfish have increased during the past ten years.

Although as a child he loved eating oysters directly off the sand, he now feels that it is "not worth the danger" to consume uncooked shellfish.

In the spring of 2022, after consuming raw oysters harvested in British Columbia, hundreds of individuals in the US and Canada became ill with norovirus, a common cause of food poisoning.

The disease normally lasts one to three days and is characterised by an abrupt onset of diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year in the US, about 80,000 people become ill from a form of bacteria known as vibrio.

It is well known that oysters, especially in the summer, take in bacteria from the coastal waters where they graze.