Should you only eat raw oysters in months ending in 'R?'


This claim to keep you safe from harmful shellfish bacteria is false. You can get sick eating raw oysters all year round.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Maryland Department of Health


Several people have been infected and even died from a flesh eating bacteria found in seafood. A bacteria called 'Vibrio,' can infiltrate aquatic life in brackish waters, like the Chesapeake Bay.

To stay safe, some people swear by this rule: only eat raw oysters in months that end in 'R.'

That means no raw oysters during the spring and summer, but September, October, November and December, you're good to go.

Our Verify team fact-checked to find out if this claim is legit or a fisherman's tale.

The saying comes from the fact that warmer water helps breed bacteria in brackish water. Experts at Maryland Department of Health and the CDC say the risk of vibrio is higher in the summer months,

but there's no guarantee oysters harvested in colder months will be bacteria-free.

Nearly 80,000 people get vibriosis every year and 100 people die from it, the CDC says. Most illnesses occur between May and October, but you can get sick all year.

Since tainted oysters don't look, smell or taste different, play it safe and boil fry or broil them for at least three minutes, the CDC says. Bake them for at least 10 minutes.

So we can Verify, the claim you should only eat raw oysters in months that end in 'R' is false.

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science posts a daily prediction of how much vibrio is in Chesapeake waters, so you can see for yourself bacteria hotspots.


Help our journalists VERIFY the news. Do you know someone else we should interview for this story? Did we miss anything in our reporting? Is there another story you'd like us to VERIFY? Click here.