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Ban on oysters from Etang de Thau lifted

France 3/Scoop, Mar 23

The ban on selling oysters from the Etang de Thau has finally been lifted. The cause of the ban was the discovery of the presence of a norovirus. After more than 35 days of clean oysters, the ban has been lifted.

There was some controversy last week, when the ban remained in place despite the oysters being ‘clean’, so as to punish all the oyster producers for two rogue sellers who contravened the ban. Many of you wrote in with your opinions on the question, ‘is this fair?’

Most readers thought it was grossly unfair. One reader wrote:

"Re. the punishment of all oyster producers: absolutely disgraceful. And surely not legal? And who exactly are 'the authorities' here? This could only happen in France. If the 'authorities' are allowed to get away with this, you might as well allow the police to punish all car drivers because one driver goes through a traffic light on red. What planet are these 'authorities' living on? The saddest part of this story is that these people think they can ride roughshod over any law of the land. And there was I thinking that this country had finally come out of the Dark Ages. Apparently not.”

A counter argument came from another reader:

"Based on the information given and assuming its accuracy - absolutely! We love to be able to buy local mussels and it's been sad to see shutters firmly closed yet again. But (and it’s a very big but) if authorities cannot protect consumers against the very real risks of possibly severe illness at a time when viruses are detected in our local shellfish; if fines or sanctions imposed on producers who flout the ban are insufficient, then something more significant needs to be done. Yes, it possibly is a shame to punish the many as a result of the actions of a few, but if it highlights the cavalier and dangerous actions of those who seem happy to risk poisoning their customers in order to make a living, then I applaud continuing the ban. We don't know (presumably) the identity of the offenders, so we cannot choose to shop elsewhere in future and we don't know the extent of fines or other sanctions.  Encouraging the industry to “police” its own members is probably a good plan and may save many of us from illness and the producers from the loss of reputation in this area."

[When a restaurant knowing sells food which is out of date, or fails to deal with a health and safety issue, it’s not a reason to shut down all restaurants is it? Ed.]

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