Certain persons with serious, underlying medical conditions have an increased risk of serious illness or death from Vibrio vulnificus; a naturally occurring organism found in some coastal waters. Persons having this increased risk include, but are not restricted to those affected by: AIDS; chronic alcohol abuse; liver, stomach or blood disorders; cancer, diabetes and kidney disease. These individuals should never consume raw shellfish. Individuals that are uncertain of their health status should seek the advice of a physician.
Harvest shellfish only from open areas that are classified "Approved" or "Conditionally Approved." Only purchase shellfish that have been processed by a Certified Shipper. Permitted Retail Food Establishments are required by law to maintain shellstock identification tags on file for at least 90 days. This tag contains important harvest and processor information - ask to see it if it is not displayed. Shucked oysters in containers less than 64 oz. should display a certification number and "sell-by" date. Containers with a capacity of more than 64 oz. must have a "shucked" date. Non-frozen shellfish should be stored between 34 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Any in-shell shellfish that gape open should be discarded. Thorough cooking may reduce some risk. Again, if you have a serious underlying health condition, do not consume raw shellfish.
Shellfish Cooking Tips - Courtesy of the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) .