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France: Oysters can be dangerous

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Some 2,000 people cut themselves each year trying to open oysters.

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PARIS, France (Reuters) -- Anxious to show vigilance after being criticized in August for failing to warn the public of an impending heatwave, France's national health watchdog issued a stern warning Tuesday about the dangers of opening oysters.

"Numerous severe accidental injuries take place during the opening of oysters, which are consumed in particularly large quantities during end-year festivities," the INVS watchdog said in a statement.

It said some 2,000 people cut themselves each year while trying to pry open oysters, 800 of them in December or January. Around 20 percent of such accidents require hospital treatment.

"One should, wherever possible, try to prevent such accidents happening, by taking simple precautions," the INVS said.

"Sit yourself down comfortably with an oyster knife and the appropriate know-how, and either use hand protection or get an oyster-seller to open them."

The French slurp down thousands of oysters, many of them farmed off the west coast, over the Christmas and New Year period.

French authorities have taken pains to give the public advance warning of the risks of floods and cold weather, as well as a flu epidemic, after failing to warn of the dangers of an August heatwave that killed 15,000 mainly elderly people.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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