Frosted Oysters Boosts Economy Along Forgotten Coast

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Workers in Apalachicola are busy shucking oysters before they are frosted. It's a post-harvest process which enables these underwater treats to be shipped all over the world.

"We use nitrogen to freeze it to kill the vibrio bacteria so even the people in the worse conditions can safely eat the half shell oysters," explained Grady Leavins, who is the President and CEO of Leavins Seafood Inc.

After the oysters are cleaned, they're sent through a tunnel where they're cooled to minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the chilly shellfish falls into a bath of nitrogen glaze before being packaged. This process has not only helped keep business alive, it's helped boost the economy along the forgotten coast.

"The fact is it's kept us in business for 12 months out of the year for the past five years, certainly has helped the economy in Franklin County, just the fact that we have the process," said Leavins.

"With all the families that are depending on the bay and the oyster business, anytime that we can give them something to do for 12 months out of the year and produce a quality and a very safe product, it just helps shine a very positive light on the community," said Ron Harrison, the general manager for Leavins Seafood Inc.

And slurping the frosted oyster after it's thawed doesn't mean you're losing out on the taste. Those behind the process say the use of nitrogen ensures the seafood is just as juicy after it's thawed as when it's taken fresh from the bay.

The frosted oyster is shipped all over the U.S. and South America, and could be headed to China in the near future.

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