One of the most prestigious oyster-growing regions in the world is in turmoil after two people died of suspected poisoning and France authorities banned sales until further notice. The victims, aged 77 and 61, died within hours of being admitted to hospital. Both had eaten oysters from France’s Bay of Arcachon.

Oyster farmers have urged the Government to speed up tests on the victims in the hope that their produce will be cleared from suspicion and they will be spared from bankruptcy.

The national health authorities on Friday extended a ban that had been in place since August 21 after alerting hospitals and doctors to the risk that people may have been poisoned by oysters contaminated with toxic algae.

After the two deaths, growers said there was still no established link with oysters.