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Opened oysters: Oysters that look wet and have a fresh sea smell are the freshest. The oyster that is dry, sunken into the shell and smells fishy is too old!

Unopened oysters: Oysters that are closed and have a fresh sea smell are the freshest.


The oyster that is gaping (and doesn't close when you tap it) and/or smells fishy, has already died and should not be eaten.

Oysters can be bought in different sizes and condition, often depending on the time of year. For more information see Pacific Oyster Grading System and Sydney Rock Oyster Grading Guide.

Oysters are filter feeders, accumulate what is found in water and so Australian oyster farmers:


  • hold a food safety license which is regulated by the Food Standards Code

  • harvest in accordance with Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (ASQAP) which aligns Australian Standards with international best practice


The ASQAP involves a detailed assessment of oyster growing areas, controlling shellfish harvest in accordance with the assessed risk, and protecting shellfish from contamination after harvest.

Thousands of water quality samples are taken each year in search of risks such as faecal coliforms and E. Coli, phytoplankton and biotoxins, and chemicals and pesticides.

A growing area will be closed for harvesting if there is any potential risk from known triggers such as high rainfall or algal blooms. Up to date information on the status of oyster harvest areas around Australia is available on the following websites:

Oyster processors also operate under a food safety license which is regulated in each state. Handling and storage conditions are set under the Food Standards Code.

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