Removal of All Korean Shellfish (Oysters, Clams, Mussels, and Scallops) from the Market

The Director of the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), would like to inform the public that on May 1, 2012, the FDA removed all Korean certified shippers of molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops) from the Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List (ICSSL), following a comprehensive FDA evaluation that determined that the Korean Shellfish Sanitation Program (KSSP) no longer meets the sanitation controls spelled out under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.  

FDA’s evaluation of the KSSP found significant shellfish growing area deficiencies including:

  1. Ineffective management of land-based pollution sources that can impact shellfish growing areas;
  2. Inadequate sanitary controls to prevent the discharge of human fecal waste from fish farms and commercial fishing and aquaculture vessels operating in and adjacent to shellfish growing areas; and
  3. Detection of norovirus in shellfish growing areas analyzed by FDA during the evaluation

Because of inadequate sanitation controls, the molluscan shellfish harvested from Korean waters may have been exposed to human fecal waste and have the potential to be contaminated with norovirus.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis. Symptoms of illness associated with norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping.  Affected individuals often experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness.  Most people show symptoms within 48 hours of exposure to the virus.  The illness typically lasts one to two days.  Norovirus is usually not life-threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects.

The removal of Korean shellfish shippers from the ICSSL is intended to stop the import of molluscan shellfish harvested from polluted waters.  Korean molluscan shellfish that entered the United States prior to May 1 and any product made with Korean molluscan shellfish are considered adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  

FDA recommends that food distributors, retailers, and food service operators remove from sale or service, all fresh, frozen, and processed (including canned) Korean molluscan shellfish and any product subsequently made with them.  Korean molluscan shellfish represents only a small fraction of the oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops sold in the United States.  The FDA is currently working to determine the distribution of the product.

The DPHSS has contacted the major wholesalers and retailers and alerted the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency to seize all Korean shellfish that is imported at our ports of entry.  Inspections of local retail and wholesale facilities are currently being conducted to ensure that these food products are removed from the shelves.

One local retail facility was observed to have two types of canned Korean oysters which were ultimately removed from the shelves with the full cooperation of the retail store management.  They are as follows:

  • Geisha Whole Oysters in Water (Net Wt. 8 oz./225 g); and
  • Crown Prince Whole Oysters in Water (Net Wt. 8 oz./226 g).

To date, there have been no reported illnesses attributed to consumption of Korean shellfish on Guam and in the United States in 2012.

Advice for Consumers:

Molluscan shellfish from Korea and products made with molluscan shellfish from Korea should be thrown out or returned to the place of purchase for a refund.  Consumers who have recently purchased molluscan shellfish, but are unsure whether it may have come from Korea, should contact the store from which it was purchased and ask where the shellfish were harvested.  Consumers are encouraged to read the label on packaged (bagged, boxed, canned, etc.) seafood to see if it is from Korea.  If the label is not clear where the shellfish is from, then consumers can call the manufacturer or distributor as indicated on the label to find out. 

The FDA will post on its website ( any recall notices it receives from companies identifying specific products that contain molluscan shellfish harvested from Korea.

For any questions, please contact the Consumer Commodities Program at the Division of Environmental Health of this Department at 735-7221.

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