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Stolen Oz Untreated Oysters deadly

AUSTRALIA - Nearly 5000 oysters have been stolen from NSW oyster farms, prompting a warning to seafood lovers that eating black market oysters could be fatal.

The NSW Food Authority yesterday urged consumers not to buy or consume black market oysters following the theft of 4800 oysters at Nambucca, the latest in a spate of thefts along the NSW coast.

Food Authority Director-General George Davey said the oysters posed a potential health risk if consumed, as they had not been depurated or filtered to flush out potentially dangerous toxins.

"We have had a spate of these thefts along the coast in the past few months, not only is it theft but it is also extremely reckless and potentially very dangerous," Mr Davey said.

"Oysters are filter feeders and any toxins or dangerous substances in the water can accumulate in the flesh and anyone who consumes or buys these oysters has no way of knowing what they're getting."

Primary Industries Minster Ian Macdonald said it was important consumers only buy oysters from reputable sellers.

"Oysters that have been stolen and depurated, or black market oysters not covered by the NSW Shellfish Program, are potentially very dangerous," Minster Macdonald said.'

"This crime is a timely reminder for consumers to only buy oysters form a reputable source.

"Consumers can be confident that oysters produced and harvested as part of the NSW Shellfish Program are as pure and safe as possible and we urge people not buy black market oysters. "

Minister Macdonald said all oysters harvested under the NSW Shellfish Program are labelled and can be traced back to the estuary, harvest area and lease where they were produced.

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