Man claims to find oil in oyster at Cornelius restaurant

CORNELIUS, NC (WBTV) - A man says he found oil inside his oysters while eating at a restaurant located north of Charlotte this weekend.

Matthew Robertson is fascinated at the thought that an oyster from the Gulf Coast that was possibly soaked in oil made it onto his dinner plate.

"I rubbed it on my napkin and I said 'Hey, Dad look, there's oil on my oysters,'" said Robertson.

He was so surprised at what he found, he kept one of the oysters to show our cameras.

WBTV reporter Sarah Batista noticed there was a black substance stuck to the inside of the oyster.

"That is definitely tar, that is not on oysters, "said Robertson.

Robertson said he noticed the oil Saturday evening when he went to dinner at Vinnie's Raw Bar which is located near Lake Norman.

The first few oysters he consumed were fine, but then he noticed something unusual.

To see pictures taken by Robertson click here, here, here and here. 

"After I ate about four of them, I started looking at my hands and I'm like--what is this stuff on my hands," said Robertson.

Roy Hall is the manager of Vinnie's Raw Bar and he admits the substance in the oyster appeared to be oil.

He said possible food contamination is a concern in the seafood industry right now.

In fact, suppliers are scrambling to find fresh oysters and the cost is rising.

"Some of our suppliers have been maxed out, not able to meet our orders," said Hall.

While suppliers and restaurants are doing their best to screen the food, Hall said the substance was inside the oyster which makes it harder to detect.

On Monday, an inspector with the State health department examined the restaurant's new shipment of oysters, which came from the same area as the suspicious oysters.

He found no indication that any of the oysters were contaminated with oil, but he says the idea isn't too far-fetched given the extent of the oil spill in the Gulf.

"It's not  out of the realm of possibility, but I would be real surprised to be honest," said Jeff French, inspector with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Even though Robertson loves seafood, for now, he's holding off on eating his favorite meal.

"I'm probably not going to order oysters or shrimp anymore, not for a long time," said Robertson.

The owner of Vinnie's told WBTV he is skeptical about the substance being oil, but he has notified the restaurant's supplier as a precaution.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.