Multiple People Allege Food Poisoning After Eating Oysters At San Diego Restaurant

January 7, 2024

Multiple people claim to have fallen ill after recently eating oysters at San Diego's Pacific Beach Fish Shop.

"Just left the hospital after eating bad oysters at Pacific Beach Fish Shop," read a message we received from a person claiming to be a recent customer of PB Fish Shop. "I would hate for even more people to get sick…. The VIBRIO bacteria in the oysters can be fatal. I am still in so much pain, and can’t eat. Its been over a week."

After receiving the above message from a person claiming to have recently become sick after dining at Pacific Beach Fish Shop, we reviewed the Yelp and Google pages for the restaurant and found several other recent reports from customers alleging they fell ill after eating oysters at the establishment. Pacific Beach Fish Shop does have a public record showing more than one report of a major violations of health department rules regarding shellfish labeling, tagging and display.  

Vibrio bacteria is naturally found in the coastal waters where oysters thrive. As oysters filter water for nutrition, these bacteria can accumulate in their tissues. Consuming raw or undercooked oysters poses a risk of contracting viruses or bacteria present within them, leading to severe illness or even fatalities. In the United States, Vibrio bacteria are responsible for an estimated 80,000 illnesses annually. Symptoms of Vibrio infection commonly include diarrhea, along with possible experiences of stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills in some individuals.
This past September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning due to a rise in severe Vibrio infections linked to warmer coastal waters, notably in the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast. Above-average sea temperatures in July and August led to six reported deaths from Vibrio infections along the East Coast, including cases in New York and Connecticut linked to wound infections or raw oyster consumption. Three deaths in North Carolina prompted health officials to caution against swimming in saltwater or brackish water. Florida, where Vibrio vulnificus is common, has seen 41 confirmed cases and eight deaths in 2023, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The Fish Shop brand started at the original Pacific Beach restaurant in 2010. Since then, co-owners Doug Sondomowicz and Bill Ramirez teamed up with Eric Leitstein of OMG Hospitality (Union Kitchen & Tap, Backyard Kitchen & Tap, Pacific Beach Alehouse, Waterbar) to open additional Fish Shop outposts in Encinitas, Hermosa Beach and Point Loma, although the Hermosa branch has since shuttered. The company previously planned to open a Little Italy outpost on State Street in the lot behind Pappalecco where a small standalone home sits, but that location has been stalled and may not be happening anymore. All Fish Shop locations host a popular $1.25 oyster night every Thursday.  

Regardless of any accusations, there are currently no confirmed cases of Vibrio bacteria poisoning linked directly to any of The Fish Shop locations. Those with suspected foodborne illness are advised to contact the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality

This is a developing story. We'll update this post as more information is obtained.