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Tuna linked to salmonella outbreak in 20 states

Friday, April 13, 2012 | 9:22 p.m. CDT

WASHINGTON — A yellowfin tuna product used to make dishes like sushi and sashimi sold at restaurants and grocery stores has been linked with an outbreak of salmonella that has sickened more than 100 people in 20 states and the District of Columbia, federal health authorities said Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration said 116 illnesses have been reported, including 12 people who have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., also known as MMI, is voluntarily recalling 58,828 pounds of frozen raw yellowfin tuna. It was labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA when it was sold to grocery stores and restaurants and is scraped off the fish bones and looks like a ground product.

The product is not available for sale to individual consumers but might have been used to make dishes available in restaurants and grocery stores. Many of the people who became ill reported eating raw tuna in sushi as "spicy tuna," the FDA said.

Reports of the foodborne illness caused by salmonella bareilly have mainly come from the Eastern Seaboard and the South, though cases have been reported as far west as Missouri and Texas.

As of Friday, illness had been reported in these states and the District of Columbia: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (5), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), 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).

The memo notes there is likely a 30-day lag time between when people become sick and when cases are reported to health officials.

The raw yellowfin tuna product might have passed through several distributors before reaching the restaurant and grocery market and might not be clearly labeled.

Previous outbreaks of salmonella bareilly have been linked to bean sprouts, which are grown in warm, damp conditions.

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 FDA recommended that people be cautious about eating raw seafood, inquire about the source and "when in doubt, don't eat it."


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