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Multistate Salmonella outbreak linked to tuna used in restaurant and grocery prepared foods

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Government officials say the likely source of an outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly infections across twenty states and the District of Columbia is a tuna product used in sushi, sashimi, ceviche, “spicy tuna” and similar dishes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a collaborative investigation by local, state and federal public health agencies into 141 salmonellosis cases of people sickened with a strain of Salmonella Bareilly has identified the source as a raw yellowfin tuna product called Nakaochi Scrape marketed by Moon Marine USA Corporation (also known as MMI). Nakaochi Scrape is a product that looks like raw, ground tuna and consists of backmeat scraped from the bones of the tuna.

In response, Moon Marine USA Corporation, of Cupertino, CA, is voluntarily recalling 58,828 pounds of the tuna product labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA. The company sold the product to distributors in wholesale boxes marked with this name, however distributors may have broken the boxes into smaller lots for further sale and therefore this tuna may not be identifiable to the end user in restaurants and grocery stores who incorporate the product into food dishes. This product was not available for sale directly to consumers.

The reported cases of Salmonella Bareilly occurred in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. New York has the highest number of reported cases with 28 people infected.

Of 138 cases the CDC has data on, all people became ill between January 28 and April 1, 2012.The CDC cautioned that the number of people affected by the outbreak might increase because illnesses that occurred after March 20, 2012 may not yet be reported. 21 people in the outbreak required hospitalization. The CDC is unaware of any deaths associated with the outbreak.

The CDC is advising retailers not to use Moon Marine’s Nakaochi Scrape and to check with their supplier if they are unsure about the source of their raw scraped yellowfin tuna product.

Consumers should confirm with the restaurant or grocery store that sushi, sashimi, ceviche, “spicy tuna” or similar dishes do not contain this product before eating.

People who ate these types of foods and experienced diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps should see their doctor. Onset of symptoms usually occurs 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Children, the elderly and those with compromised immune symptoms are at the greatest risk of suffering severe salmonellosis infections.

While most people recover from a salmonellosis infection, some people develop long-term reactive arthritis, a pain in their joints, eye irritation and painful urination.