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I've never eaten a raw oyster, mainly because I am afraid of the dangers involved. I'd like to try it however, and I'm trying to find what is the best way.

I was thinking about trying first at a restaurant and then at home. So, both when eating out and buying for home, what precautions should be taken to avoid the risks from raw oysters?

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Usually for a business it's up to the oyster shucker to worry about the quality and you're to just enjoy.

You can tell if the oyster is bad if it has an off smell. Much like fish, fresh oysters won't give that off rotten fishy smell and tend to smell mild.

Many people suck them whole but you should chew oysters before swallowing to taste if there's anything wrong. If there something not tasting properly don't chance it, spit it out!

If you are buying oysters to shuck yourself try to get some without noticeable openings or cracks in the shell because this could mean that the animal is dead and possibly rotten. Wash the outer shell of any debris clinging on and inspect the shell thoroughly before shucking.

The oyster just shucked should be attached to the shell still before the oyster knife cuts it off for eating. If it's detached from the shell without cutting it, the odds of it being bad go up.

The meat should look shiny and mildly semitransparent the oyster juice should smell of the water it grew in and should be clear. Bad meat will look dried and unhealthy and the juice will be cloudy.

PS. When you shuck the oyster don't wash the meat off after shucking it; you'll lose the oyster juice and that gives it tremendous flavour!

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    Your answer has many good points, but I would add info about purging and washing them before shucking (for at home consumption). – Cindy Jan 5 at 21:44
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    Purging oysters? I have never found this to be necessary. – moscafj Jan 5 at 23:27
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    Washing the outer shell before shucking added! But I'm in agreement with moscafj about the purging. – Jade So Jan 6 at 6:10
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Add a couple of drops of lemon juice to the opened oyster. If the meat contracts lightly, it is fresh and safe to eat, and lemon juice is great seasoning for oysters ! If it doesn't move, you can try prodding the outer rim. If you don't see any reaction, something's fishy...

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