Wilderness tweet vanishes with mistaken oyster story

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A tweet from an account linked to a Point Reyes wilderness advocacy Web site denounced Drakes Bay oysters moments after an article appeared that erroneously rehashed a year-old recall due to a possible virus on Tuesday. The tweet was deleted a day later, after lawyers with the oyster company wrote to counterparts working on behalf of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. Both sides of the Drakes Estero debate are anxiously awaiting a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Exactly one year after a voluntary recall by Drakes Bay Oyster Company, a news article announcing the same recall—but misstating the year—appeared on Tuesday on a food news Web site. The story set off a small flurry of activity by lawyers and advocates involved in the often ugly battle over the popular oyster farm’s fate.

Shortly after the article appeared, a tweet linked to a website registered to Amy Trainer, the executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, pronounced, “Oysters from @drakesbayoyster making us sick @CaPublicHealth shuts DBOC down,” linking to the California Department of Public Health notice of closure from last August.

Food World News took down the article in the wee hours Wednesday after its author, Dina Exil, received a call from Drakes Bay lawyer Peter Prows pointing out that the closure took place last year.  

“I’ve been getting phone calls from the end of yesterday until just a minute ago,” Ms. Exil, a freelance writer from Brooklyn, told the Light Wednesday morning.

Ms. Exil said she received a Google alert for a story in the Huffington Post, which led her to another story in Food Safety News. She had overlooked the fact that both articles were published in August 2012.

Last summer, three patrons of separate San Francisco restaurants became ill after eating oysters likely infected with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a naturally occurring bacteria that can cause stomach distress and, occasionally, serious illness. Drakes Bay oysters were among the restaurants’ shellfish offerings, and owner Kevin Lunny voluntarily recalled oysters harvested between July 17 and August 3.

This week Mr. Lunny questioned the origins of the recent article, but told the Light that the bigger issue was the behavior of wilderness advocates like Ms. Trainer. 

“They are trying to damage our business and our reputation through some very ugly tactics. We never cease to be amazed,” he said. 

(According to one Web expert, Google could have rebroadcast an old article had someone updated it, such as with a correction.)

Mr. Prows wrote to lawyers working on behalf of the EAC on Tuesday, demanding the removal of the “false tweet.” 

On Wednesday afternoon, the tweet vanished. A new one announced, “DBOC trys 2 blame park supporters 4 inaccurate FWN post we had no part of,” followed by a link to a year-old article about the oyster recall by the East Bay Express.