Florida Man Dies After Eating ‘One in a Billion’ Bad Oyster

by Chris Haney

After a man in Florida got sick with a bacterial infection from eating a “one in a billion” bad oyster last week, he has now passed away. It’s the second death due to oysters eaten in The Sunshine State this month.

According to a report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Roger “Rocky” Pinckney ate oysters at the Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Fort Lauderdale. After the meal, the 44-year-old got sick with vibrio, which is commonly found in various saltwater environments. People catch the bacteria by consuming raw seafood or when their wound is exposed to seawater. Vibrio bacteria is responsible for an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States each year.

At a Glance

  • Roger “Rocky” Pinckney died this week after eating a “one in a billion” bad oyster
  • He’s the second person to die in Florida after eating oysters in the month of August alone
  • The oysters were linked back to Rustic Inn Crabhouse, which passed an inspection “with flying colors” by the Florida Department of Health following the incident

The local news outlet spoke with Rustic Inn Crabhouse manager Gary Oreal about the bad oyster that led to Pinckney’s death. Oreal told the news source that the seafood restaurant served upwards of 100 dozen oysters the day Pinckney ate there.

“He had that one in a billion that was bad. I feel horrible,” Oreal said to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Oreal admitted that oysters can be dangerous to eat. He shared that he’s eaten the raw mollusks his entire life, and knows he’s at risk whenever he does. Yet he has no plans on halting his consumption of the seafood anytime soon.

“Oysters are top of the mountain for dangerous foods to eat,” Oreal said. “I have eaten them my entire life, and will continue. But you are putting yourself at risk when you do it.”

After Pinckney got sick, the Florida Department of Health paid Rustic Inn Crabhouse a visit. Oreal explained that the restaurant’s kitchen passed the health department’s inspection “with flying colors.” The restaurant manager estimates that the establishment has served billions of oysters in the six decades its been in business. This was the first incident of its kind that Oreal knows of.

“Over the course of 60 years, we have served a couple billion oysters. And we never had anyone get sick like this guy did,” Oreal explained.

Second Death Due to Bad Oysters in Florida This Month

Supposedly, Pinckney used to work at the Rustic Inn years back. Sadly, his return visit to his former workplace was a deadly one. Yet the 44-year-old wasn’t the only person to pass away after eating a bad oyster in Florida this month.

On August 9, a leader in the Pensacola community contracted vibrio after eating another bad oyster. Studer Community Institute Director of Business Engagement Rodney Jackson died from a bacterial infection after eating oysters from Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market, according to the Pensacola News Journal reported.

In each case that resulted in the men dying, the bad oysters were sourced from Louisiana. There’s almost no way to tell if an oyster has vibrio, so you eat them at your own risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns seafood consumers about vibriosis on its website. The site shares that vibriosis cases often occur in warmer weather, but cases have been reported throughout the year.

“An oyster that contains harmful bacteria doesn’t look, smell, or even taste different from any other oyster,” the CDC says.