Deteriorative Conditions Of Oysters

a. Spawny Oysters. Spawny oysters can be identified by the presence of a translucent, milky-colored material. When moderate pressure is applied to the body of a shucked oyster, this fluid is released from within the oyster. This condition develops when the water approaches 50° to 70° F during late spring and early fall. On the Pacific Coast, there is a tendency for spawning to continue throughout the summer months. Since 2 to 5 percent of Pacific Coast oysters are spawny by this definition, a tolerance of one spawny oyster per pint has been established for each shipment of oysters.

b. Oysters with Undernourished, Elongated Gills. Undernourished, elongated gills are a condition that may develop in oysters after the heavy spawning periods. The condition normally occurs in late spring or early fall. The gills become thin, watery, and brownish in color. The body is thin and somewhat brownish, not whitish, the color that would indicate a fat oyster of high quality. There are many other factors that may produce this condition, for example, salinity of the water, lack of food, and turbidity of the water.

c. Gaper. A gaper is a dead oyster. The valves are parted and will not close when the oyster is disturbed. A gaper should not be included in a production lot. Since the time of death is not known and the degree of deterioration is also unknown, contamination to the balance of the lot could result.

d. Measuring the pH Level. Measuring the acid value of oyster liquor is a fairly accurate quality indicator since glycogen is converted to acid at a standard rate. At origin, fresh oysters must have a 6.2 pH level. At destination, the pH can drop to 6.0. When performing a surveillance inspection, a pH reading of 5.9 or 5.8 would indicate immediate issue. A pH below 5.8 is considered sour.

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