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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

FDA Expands Tuna Poke Warning for Hepatitis A

P1130305-640x480On May 1, the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA that a sample of frozen tuna cubes from Indonesia tested positive for the hepatitis A virus. On May 2, the FDA contacted the Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC, a subsidiary distributor of Hilo Fish Company, to obtain additional information related to the positive tuna sample. Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC initiated a product recall because the affected product had been distributed to its customers in Oahu, Hawaii (U.S. mainland and other Hawaiian Islands were not affected by the recall). The state of Hawaii embargoed the lot that tested positive and the FDA confirmed the sample was positive.

On May 16, Hilo Fish Company notified the FDA that it had submitted samples of additional shipments held in its cold storage facility in Hawaii to a private laboratory for testing and received additional positive results for the hepatitis A virus. Imported tuna products from this facility were sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood and were distributed to restaurants and other retail locations in CA, NY, OK, and TX. The New York State Department of Health and the FDA verified that product shipped to New York was not sold to the public. The FDA’s investigation in connection with these firms is ongoing.

  • On May 18, Hilo Fish Company began recalling tuna sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. that tested positive for the hepatitis A virus.
  • While the CDC is not currently aware of any illnesses linked to these products, it is advising post exposure prophylaxis (PEP)for unvaccinated persons who may have consumed the potentially contaminated tuna within the past two weeks.
  • The FDA is providing a list of establishmentsin TX, OK, and CA that may currently have potentially contaminated tuna in commerce to help alert consumers that may be at risk of the hepatitis A virus. Contact your health care professional if you believe you have been exposed to contaminated tuna.
  • 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 Canning Co.,which tested positive for hepatitis A on May 1, 2017. The initially recalled product has been removed from circulation and the newly recalled frozen tuna lots were not shipped to Hawaii, but were shipped to the mainland U.S.

Consumers may be at risk of contracting a hepatitis A infection due to the consumption of potentially contaminated frozen tuna distributed by Hilo Fish Company and sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company (Lots F5-6 Soui Dau Industrial Zone, Can Lam Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam) and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. (General Santos Fishport Complex Tambler, General Santos City, 9500, Philippines). The CDC reports no illnesses to date.

The FDA is collecting additional frozen tuna samples and increasing its screening measures and testing for imported seafood for these companies.

In addition, the agency has prepared a list of restaurants and other retail locations that received the recalled frozen tuna. The agency will continue to update this list as its investigation continues. To protect the health of consumers who may have eaten contaminated tuna and require post-exposure prophylaxis, the FDA has determined that it is necessary to make public the names of these businesses as part of the recall.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus . It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A can be spread when a person ingests the virus from contaminated food or water. The virus can also be easily passed from an infected person to other unvaccinated family members, sexual partners, and close contacts.

Symptoms in adults include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool. People with hepatitis A may not have symptoms until 15 to 50 days after consuming a contaminated food or drink. CDC reports that while the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children, vaccination rates are lower than for other recommended childhood vaccines. Unvaccinated children can become ill and not have symptoms.