A systematic review of post-harvest interventions for Vibrio parahaemolyticus in raw oysters

Maya Spaur, Benjamin J.K. Davis, Scott Kivitz, Angelo DePaola, John C. Bowers, Frank C. Curriero, Keeve E. Nachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Non-cholera Vibrio bacteria are a major cause of foodborne illness in the United States. Raw oysters are commonly implicated in gastroenteritis caused by pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus. In response to outbreaks in 1997–1998, the US Food and Drug Administration developed a nation-wide quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) of V. parahaemolyticus in raw oysters in 2005. The QMRA identified information gaps that new research may address. Incidence of sporadic V. parahaemolyticus illness has recently increased and, as oyster consumption increases and sea temperatures rise, V. parahaemolyticus outbreaks may become more frequent, posing health concerns. Updated and region-specific QMRAs will improve the accuracy and precision of risk of infection estimates. Objectives: We identify research to support an updated QMRA of V. parahaemolyticus from oysters harvested in Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, focusing on observational and experimental research on post-harvest practices (PHPs) published from 2004 to 2019. Methods: A predefined search strategy was applied to PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Science.gov, NAL Agricola, and Google Scholar. Study eligibility criteria were defined using a population, intervention, comparator, and outcome statement. Reviewers independently coded abstracts for inclusion/exclusion using predefined criteria. Data were extracted and study quality and relevance evaluated based on published guidance for food safety risk assessments. Findings were synthesized using a weight of evidence approach. Results: Of 12,174 articles retrieved, 93 were included for full-text review. Twenty-seven studies were found to be high quality and high relevance, including studies on cold storage, high hydrostatic pressure, depuration, and disinfectant, and other PHPs. High hydrostatic pressure consistently emerged as the most effective PHP in reducing abundance of V. parahaemolyticus. Discussion: Limitations of the knowledge base and review approach involve the type and quantity of data reported. Future research should focus on PHPs for which few or no high quality and high relevance studies exist, such as irradiation and relaying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number140795
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 25 2020


  • Oysters
  • Post-harvest practices
  • Quantitative microbial risk assessment
  • Systematic review
  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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