Oysters, best known for their reputed aphrodisiac powers, have been a favorite of food lovers throughout the centuries, beginning with the Roman emperors who paid for their weight in gold. Oysters have been an important food product since the Neolithic period and were cultivated long before the Christian era. The Greeks served them with wine and the Romans were so enthusiastic about these amazing bivalves that they sent thousands of slaves to the shores of the English Channel to gather them. aside from being a prized treat, oysters also serve an ecological purpose by filtering the brackish water from which they are located ().
Her in the Philippines, oysters are also considered a special delicacy in a lot of places. These delicious bivalve mollusks are a constant presence in the country, from cheap sidewalk carinderias to swanky, expensive restaurants that high profile people frequent. To keep up with the high demand, there are numerous sites suitable for oyster farming in the nation. In Luzon, the cultivation of oysters started in Bacoor Bay in the towns of Bacoor and Kawit in the province of Cavite. The average size of an oyster farm is 0.5 ha to 5 ha and the average production is approximately 50 metric tons per hectare. And because of the proximity of these two towns to Metro Manila markets and the availability of transportation facilities in land and water, oyster marketing has been no problem at all. Likewise, the present demand of oysters still exceeds supply.
In Negros Occidental, oysters, or talaba, as what the locality calls it, can be found in all the coastal areas in the province. Though there are places that are major oyster producers like the city of Himamaylan and the municipality of Ilog, the talaba of Hinigaran are deemed the best. Some sources say that oyster culture in the Philippines began at Hinigaran in 1921. Hinigaran has natural breeding grounds for “spats” or veliger larvae of talaba. The Hinigaran River is also home to the most valuable talaba species, Crassotrea iredalei or slipper oyster.
Though oysters are usually enjoyed half-cooked to preserve its delicious taste, some people eat it raw, with millions of Americans eating it au naturel with a squeeze of lemon or a dash of hot sauce. However, when eaten like this, this tasty mollusk can pose certain health risks.
Eating raw oysters exposes people to certain kinds of bacteria and human gastric pathogens they naturally harbor, examples of which include the Vibrio parahaemolyticus and the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacterium found in marine waters, particularly those waters with low salinity levels such as bays and estuaries. The bacterial population is typically greatest during the summer months when water temperatures rise. Because oysters are filter feeders, meaning they filter water containing plankton and food particles through gills, it is common for Vibrio vulnificus to become concentrated in their tissues when feeding in waters where bacteria thrive. This kind of bacteria will not only cause gastrointestinal illness like the other Vibrio bacteria that can also be found in oysters, Some people with certain health conditions can suffer serious illness or even death when infected with Vibrio vulnificus.