The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating and recalling frozen yellowfin tuna due to possible contamination of hepatitis A. The recalled products include 8-ounce tuna steaks with an expiration date of October 1, 2018, and individual vacuum packed 15-pound frozen tuna cubes dated April 1, 2019.
Restaurants have been notified in Texas, Oklahoma, and California that received shipments of potentially contaminated tuna. Shipments were sent to distributors in New York also, but the New York State Health Department verified it had not been sold to the public there, according to the announcement, reports CNN.
The FDA is collaborating with other health agencies to continue investigating the hepatitis A-infected frozen tuna from Hilo Fish Company, a Hawaii-based importer. The contaminated fish were sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company in Vietnam and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc., in the Philippines. According to the FDA, there have been no reports of illness from the frozen tuna, to date.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a very contagious liver infection that can be caught from another person, sexual contacts, close contacts, or from consuming contaminated food or water, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms may not be evident for 15 to 50 days after a person is infected. Infected people may not experience symptoms at all. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. When individuals do experience symptoms, they may come on suddenly and include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice, reports CNN.
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On May 1, the Hawaii Department of Health first recalled some frozen tuna products when samples from a local tuna canning company came back positive for the virus. The product shipments were then recalled from a few Hawaii retailers. Hilo Fish Company reported additional cases of hepatitis A found in product samples it tested independently in mid-May.
The current recall resulted from follow-up after the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA of a frozen tuna sample, sourced from PT Deho Cannng Co., which tested positive for hepatitis A on May 1, 2017. The initially recalled products has been removed from circulation and the newly recalled frozen tuna lots were not shipped to Hawaii, but were shipped to the United States mainland, but were not sold to the public, said the FDA.
The FDA is gathering additional frozen tuna samples and increasing its screening measures and testing for imported seafood for these companies.
To Prevent Hepatitis A Infection
The CDC recommends providing post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated people who may have eaten any of the recalled raw or undercooked tuna products in the last two weeks. People who may have consumed this fish fully cooked are at a reduced risk of exposure, but a consultation with a medical professional is advised.
The CDC advises getting the hepatitis A vaccine if they are ages 1 to 40, or hepatitis A virus-specific immunoglobulin for people outside the age range. Those with evidence of previous vaccination do not require PEP.
The first recall which took place in Hawaii, consisted of imported raw frozen ahi tuna cubes sourced from Deho Canning Co. (JL. Raya Madidir, Bitung, Indonesia). That recall by Tropic Fish includes lot codes 609149 and 609187. No products are believed to remain on the market.
The current recall is of frozen yellowfin tuna steaks from Sustainable Seafood Company and yellowfin tuna cubes from Santa Cruz Seafood. This recall by Hilo Fish Company includes Tuna Steaks, 8 oz. individually vacuum-packed bags, production date code: 627152, Lot number: 166623; Expiration date: 2018-10-01 and Frozen Yellowfin tuna cubes, random: Individually vacuum packed: 15 lb. case, date code: 705342, Lot number: 173448; Expiration dates: 2019-04-01.
Most Frequent Sources of Hepatitis A
Contaminated shellfish, fruit (berries), and salads are the most frequent foodborne sources of hepatitis. Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. Consumers should thoroughly wash their hands after using the bathroom and changing diapers to help avoid hepatitis A, as well as other foodborne diseases.
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