Frozen Tuna Product Linked To Widespread Salmonella Outbreak
April 15, 2012

Frozen Tuna Product Linked To Widespread Salmonella Outbreak

A type of frozen yellowfin tuna product has been recalled due to a link to a salmonella outbreak that has left more than 100 people ill across 20 states and the District of Columbia, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Saturday.

The tuna product in question, Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA, is not available for purchase directly by grocery store customers, but stores and restaurants use it to create dishes such as sushi and sashimi, according to the AP. It is manufactured by Moon Marine USA (MMI) of Cupertino, California and to date, it has been responsible for 116 illnesses, including 12 hospitalizations, according to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statistics.

"We have traced the illness back to certain lots of tuna scrape from Moon Marine," FDA representative Curtis Allen told Monica Eng of the Chicago Tribune Thursday. "There could still be some out there, but we hope it won't be out there for long."

MMI has voluntarily recalled 58,828 pounds of the frozen raw yellowfin tuna, according to reports.

"Reports of the foodborne illness caused by salmonella bareilly have mainly come from the Eastern Seaboard and South, though cases have been reported as far west as Missouri and Texas," the AP report said. "As of Friday, illness had been reported these states and the District of Columbia: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (5), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), As Georgia (5), Illinois (10), Louisiana (2), Maryland (11), Massachusetts (8), Mississippi (1), Missouri (2), New Jersey (7), New York (24), North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (5), Rhode Island (5), South Carolina (3), Texas (3), Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (12)."

In an FDA memo, the federal health organization said that there is likely a 30-day delay between the time during which people become sick and when they notify health officials of their condition.

Of those interviewed, 81% of those who contracted the illness said that they had eaten some type of raw fish meal, typically sushi or "spicy tuna," within seven days of their first symptoms, Eng said, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures.

"The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours of eating the contaminated food. The illness can be severe or even life-threatening for infants, older people, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems," the AP said, adding that FDA officials are urging individuals to avoid eating seafood if they have any doubts about its safety.