|FDA Investigates Findings of Hepatitis A Linked to Frozen Tuna
TEXAS, June 7, 2017 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are assisting state and local officials in assessing the risk of hepatitis A virus exposure from contaminated frozen tuna sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company, Vietnam, and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc., Philippines. If unvaccinated consumers have consumed the recalled product within the last two weeks, post-exposure prophylaxis may help prevent hepatitis A virus infection.
Prior to FDA’s announcement, Hilo Fish Company alerted its customers and distribution partners directly to let them know about the company’s voluntary recall of certain tuna products on May 18. The FDA received records from the company or its distribution partners indicating that they sold frozen tuna to the establishments listed on the FDA’s website. The FDA is working with Hilo and other distributors to ensure that the companies remove product from the market. The table containing the names of establishments have been updated.
It is the responsibility of the Hilo Fish Company to notify its customers about the voluntary recall. It is also the responsibility of any company that received a recall notice from Hilo Fish Company to notify its customers. The establishments identified on the FDA’s website should have received a notice from Hilo Fish Company or their direct supplier. If they have not, they should reach out to their suppliers for more information. Any company that has questions about the voluntary recall or has affected product and did not receive notice should contact the FDA at 1-800-SAFEFOOD.
What was the Problem and What was Done About It?
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.
On 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.
What is Hepatitis A?
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.
What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A?
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.
Who is at Risk?
Any unvaccinated person who consumed recalled frozen tuna is at risk of contracting the hepatitis A virus.
What Can be Done to Prevent Infection with Hepatitis A?
CDC recommends providing post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated people who have eaten any of the recalled raw or undercooked tuna products in the last two weeks. People who have consumed this fish fully cooked are at reduced risk of exposure, but we encourage consultation with medical professionals.
PEP consists of:
If you are unsure if you have been vaccinated against hepatitis A virus, contact your health professional to check your immunization records. If you have been vaccinated, no further action is needed. If you have never received the hepatitis A vaccine, getting a single dose within two weeks of exposure can protect against illness. If you are unable to determine whether you have already been vaccinated, receiving an additional dose of vaccine is not harmful.
What Specific Products Were Recalled?
The first recall, which took place in Hawaii, consisted of imported raw frozen ahi tuna cubes sourced from PT 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, which began May 18, consists 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).
What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?
Prior to FDA’s announcement, Hilo Fish Company alerted its customers and distribution partners directly to let them know about the company’s voluntary recall of certain tuna products on May 18. The FDA received records from the company or its distribution partners indicating that they sold frozen tuna to the establishments listed on the FDA’s website. The FDA is working with Hilo and other distributors to ensure that the companies remove product from the market.
In the event that retailers and/or other retail locations are found to have handled recalled or other potentially contaminated food in their facilities, they should:
What Do Consumers Need To Do?
If you think you’ve gotten sick from eating recalled tuna contact your health care professional. The FDA and CDC are not currently aware of any illnesses related to any recalled frozen tuna. However, because hepatitis A can have serious health consequences, CDC advises post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated persons who have consumed any of the recalled frozen tuna products in the past two weeks. PEP offers no preventive benefit to persons whose exposure occurred more than 2 weeks ago. People who have consumed this fish fully cooked are at reduced risk of exposure, but are encouraged to consult with their medical professionals.
Contaminated shellfish, fruit (berries), and salads are the most frequent foodborne sources of hepatitis A. Hepatitis A can be transmitted from person to person. 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 protect themselves from hepatitis A, as well as other foodborne diseases.
Who Should be Contacted?
Contact your healthcare professional if you think you may have become ill from eating tuna, or if you believe that you have eaten any of the recalled frozen tuna within the last two weeks.
The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or to consult http://www.fda.gov.