This may sound cruel, but consider that the oyster is a very primitive creature, and has no brain. Both raw alive and raw dead pose risks though, she says. In a recently-viewed episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown mentioned that properly stored in a refrigerator with a damp towel over the container, oysters could live as long as a week. Fun related fact, oysters sometimes have tiny crabs inside their shells once shucked. So, when exactly is an oyster no longer alive? These little guys are called pea crabs and are not only edible as well, but considered by some to be quite the lucky little treat. You're at a greater risk of infection when choosing to eat raw oysters… A shell that doesn't even close (or an oyster that comes gaping open) means it is D-E-A-D and you should not buy or eat it. It is unacceptable to rinse or dump that juice out of the oyster before consuming it raw. This involves separating the oyster’s abductor muscle from the shell, which either kills it or renders it immobile. And there is a little bit of truth to that. There is only one criterion: the oyster must be capable of tightly closing its shell.. Open oysters should be tapped on the shell; a live oyster will close up and is safe to eat.. Oysters which are open and unresponsive are dead and must be discarded. Then he showed how to open and prepare them. If it closes, that means the oyster is still alive and breathing. Keep the oyster alive as long as possible, to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Before serving, they are shucked. According to studies, "raw oysters (especially raw dead oysters) can carry some dangerous bacteria (vibrio vulnificus) with side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting," she says. When you purchase oysters, they are typically kept alive on ice until it is time to prepare them. They're alive until shucked, which kills them immediately. 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