x
Breaking News
More () »

Verify: Aw Shucks! Debunking the top oyster myths

November is Virginia Oyster Month, so we took the top oyster myths to the experts.

WASHINGTON —

THE QUESTIONS

 QUESTION #1: Is it true that adding hot sauce to oysters kills bacteria?

QUESTION #2:  Is it true you should avoid eating oysters in months that don’t end in the letter R? 

QUESTION #3: Are raw oysters an aphrodisiac and will they cure a hangover?

QUESTION #4: Is it true farmed oysters have an impact on the environment like fish farming does?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWERS

ANSWER #1 False
ANSWER #2 False
ANSWER #3 False
ANSWER #4 False

WHAT WE FOUND

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, oysters have been around for 15 million years and can live as long as 20 years. Oysters can change their sex and do so more than once. They are "vegetarians" and eat algae by filtering it out of the water.

Oysters play a large role in marine and coastal environments and they have an impact on water quality. In fact, a single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. That's about as much water as you use in a 10-minute shower.

Oysters filter out sediment and nitrogen which cause problems in Bay waters. They consume the pollutants or shape them into small packets, which are deposited on the bottom where they are not harmful.

Oyster aquaculture is not only helping the economy throughout the Bay region, it's also helping save the Chesapeake Bay. Each year, the reefs are estimated to remove an amount of nitrogen equivalent to 20,000 bags of fertilizer —a service valued at more than $1.7 million. 

Is it true that adding hot sauce to oysters kills bacteria?

According to Colden, this is false. She said as much as people like hot sauce, horseradish and lemon juice, using those condiments will not kill bacteria in an oyster. Colden says if you’re concerned about bacteria, the safest thing is to fully cook your oysters.

Is it true you should avoid eating oysters in months that don’t end in the letter R?

Colden says this, too, is false. Because of technological advances over the years in refrigeration, transportation and seafood handling, it is safe to consume oysters in any month of the year, including months without the letter R in them.

Are raw oysters an aphrodisiac and will they cure a hangover?

The FDA says both of these are false. The agency says there’s no scientific evidence to back up either claim.

Is it true farmed oysters have an impact on the environment like fish farming does?

"That is false," Colden said. "Unlike other species that can be farmed like salmon, for example, fish farming requires a lot of inputs, you have to feed those fish, often with other fish that are captured from the wild. In contrast, oysters eat algae, which is naturally produced in the water, they're not required to be fed, and due to their filtration and feeding the water is actually cleaner in areas that have oyster farms that in areas that don't have them."

WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.

Sign up for the Capitol Breach email newsletter, delivering the latest breaking news and a roundup of the investigation into the Capitol Riots on January 6, 2021.