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The name Oyster is used for a number of different groups of mollusks which grow for the most part in marine or brackish water.

The "true oysters" are the members of the family Ostreidae, and this includes the edible oysters, which mainly belong to the genera Ostrea, Crassostrea, Ostreola or Saccostrea. Examples are the Edible Oyster, Ostrea edulis, the Olympia Oyster Ostreola conchaphila, and the Eastern Oyster Crassostrea virginica.

Oysters can be canned, eaten raw or cooked. When caught, like all shellfish they have an extremely short shelf-life. They should be fresh when consumed or serious illness can result. Additionally, oysters can host various illness-causing pathogens. Therefore, consumption of raw oysters should be done with caution. Researchers in Oregon have invented a self-shucking oyster.

Farm raised oysters are listed at a "Best Choice" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program.

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