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Abstract

 Because of concerns about Vibrio vulnificus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering requirements for postharvest processing (PHP) of oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico during warm-weather months and intended for raw consumption. As described in the paper, feasible PHP methods for warm-weather-harvested oysters include cool pasteurization, high hydrostatic pressure, and low-dose gamma-irradiation. We estimate that the costs of applying PHP are approximately 5 to 6 cents per half-shell oyster intended for raw consumption. However, most oyster processors have insufficient volumes to cost-effectively install PHP equipment. To assist these smaller operations, central PHP facilities operated by a 3rd party would be needed. A geographic information system analysis that minimized volume-weighted travel distances from each Gulf oyster operation identified 6 optimal PHP facility locations in the Gulf region. Even with the establishment of central PHP facilities, some oyster operations will become unprofitable and be at risk for closure.