Man making food(l+r), Plate of oysters(c)


‘I’ve never had oysters before … and now that I know I’ll never try them’: Clam bar cook shares the truth about oysters

‘Now I’m gonna be thinking this every time I eat them.’


Beau Paul


Oysters aren’t an entry-level food, even when they’re cooked. Raw oysters are considered a delicacy, but slurping one down, even with lemon juice and tabasco accompaniments, isn’t for the faint of heart.

And one bit of information might make you put them on your “never trying” list. They might still be alive when you devour them.

That’s according to Joe DeCandia Jr., owner of Brooklyn-based Lenny’s Clam Bar. A recent TikTok, posted on June 6 features Joe passing on the surprising bit of information to his viewers. So far the revelatory video has picked up 790,500 views and counting.

In the video, which is captioned, “Did you know oysters are eaten alive?” Joe prepares some of his restaurant’s signature raw oyster dishes. A person off-camera asks him, “Is it true that when you eat oysters that they’re alive?”

Joe claims that it is a fact that raw oysters are alive when they come to your table. “Of course. When you open them up fresh they’re alive,” he states. “Most times you squeeze lemons on them you’ll see them [all] wiggle and move.”

Joe illustrates the point in the video by squeezing a generous amount of lemon juice onto a platter of oysters over the strains of The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive.”

They do appear to respond to the juice.

Viewers are torn

The demonstration is enough to put some of the video’s viewers off their feed.

“I’ve never ate oysters before & now that I know they’re still alive I’ll never try them,” Uldren Sov (@vegeta4659) wrote in the comments.

“I did not need to know or see this,” another viewer wrote.

Another added, “Never ever had oysters in my LIFE in my 25 years NEVER and will never ever.”

But some oyster fans were unaffected, like MysticGoddess (@mysticgoddess_t) who wrote, “The most delicious thing ever! Been eating them since I was a child!”

And Connie Lin (@connieturner30) who commented, “Yummm, with lemon, horseradish, and Tabasco!”

@lennysclambar Did you know oysters are eaten alive? 👀 #oysters #oyster #seafood #seafoodtiktok #seafoodtok #howardbeachny #howardbeach #queensnyc #queensny ♬ Stayin Alive – Bee Gees

Are oysters really alive when you eat them?

However, Joe’s declaration may need to be taken with a few grains of salt.

According to, “The good news is that your oyster is very unlikely to still be alive when you eat it. The bad news is, it died within a few minutes of being shucked.”

“Once an oyster’s flesh is removed from the shell by cutting the adductor muscle (that tough bit that keeps the oyster clamped shut) the oyster continues to breathe for three to five minutes,” Delicious reports.

So, it’s fairly unlikely that any of Joe’s oysters will arrive at your table still alive. But even if they are, Delicious states not to worry. Oysters don’t experience pain (or fear for that matter) the same way humans and other mammals do.

“They do have a ganglia nerve, which is a precursor to a central nervous system but is less complex.”

Risks of eating oysters

There are other risks to eating oysters than just facing ethical turmoil though. Verywellhealth writes that “potentially harmful bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens can build up in the mollusk’s tissues. If you eat the oysters raw or undercooked, those germs can be passed along to you.”

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian, told Verywell that “eating raw oysters comes with a risk for foodborne illness, and unfortunately, there’s no way to detect if the raw oysters in front of you contain bacteria that could make you sick.”

Bottom line: While raw oysters may not be alive they do carry the risks of eating any raw food. If you want to be 100% sure, order your shellfish cooked. Otherwise, eat at your own risk.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Joe DeCandia and Lenny’s Clam Bar via TikTok messenger for further comment.

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