Category Archives: Scombroid

Research – An Outbreak Investigation of Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning Illnesses in the United States Linked to Yellowfin Tuna Imported from Vietnam – 2019

Journal of Food Protection

Scombrotoxin fish poisoning (SFP) is caused by the ingestion of certain fish species with elevated levels of histamine due to decomposition. In the fall of 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was notified of 51 SFP illnesses including two hospitalizations from 11 states through consumer complaints received by FDA’s Consumer Complaint System or directly from state partners. A case was defined as an individual who experienced a histamine-type reaction after consumption of tuna imported from Vietnam and an illness onset between August 14, 2019 and November 24, 2019. A traceback investigation was initiated at 19 points-of-service (POS) to identify a common tuna source. FDA and state partners collected a total of 34 product samples throughout the distribution chain including from a case patient’s home, POS, distributors, or at the port of entry. Samples were analyzed by sensory evaluation and/or chemical testing for the presence of histamine. Cases reported exposure to tuna imported from Vietnam. The traceback investigation identified two Vietnamese firms as the sources of the tuna. Twenty-nine samples were confirmed as decomposed by sensory evaluation and/or positive for the presence of elevated levels of histamine by chemical testing. Both Vietnamese firms were placed on Import Alert. Seven U.S. firms and one Vietnamese firm initiated voluntary recalls. FDA released public communication naming the U.S. importers to help suppliers and distributors to identify the product and as a result, effectuate the foreign firm’s recall. This SFP outbreak investigation highlights the complexities of the federal outbreak response, specifically related to imported food. Imported foods present cultural considerations that need to be addressed during outbreak response when timing is critical. Furthermore, collaborating with countries where confidentiality agreements are not in place can limit information sharing and the speed of public health response efforts.

New Zealand – Auckland health officials warn of scombroid poisoning

Outbreak News Today

Auckland health officials are advising people to seek medical advice from their GP if they have severe or persistent allergic reactions from eating fish.

They have had reports of people who have eaten fish from a ready meal service becoming ill with histamine poisoning, also known as scombroid poisoning.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Jay Harrower says the symptoms are often a combination of an allergic reaction and gastroenteritis.

New Zealand – Hello Fresh food poisoning: 20 more people report symptoms after eating spoiled fish

New Zealand Herald

At least 20 people have now reported symptoms of food poisoning to health authorities after eating spoiled fish from food delivery service Hello Fresh.

An Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) spokesperson said that in the last 24 hours it has received around 20 calls from people who ate the food provided by the meal kit company.

When fish isn’t chilled properly, it can produce histamine that can be toxic to humans leading to scombroid poisoning, according to the New Zealand Food Safety website.

RASFF Alerts – Histamine – Wrapped Tuna Sashimi Chunks – Frozen King Fish

European Food Alerts

RASFF

histamine (811 mg/kg – ppm) in wrapped tuna sashimi chunks from Sri Lanka, via the United Kingdom in Ireland

RASFF

histamine (452; 340 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen king fish from Vietnam in the UK

Sweden – Histamine poisoning in Sweden linked to tuna from Vietnam

Food Safety News

Thirty people in Sweden fell ill with scombroid poisoning after eating tuna from Vietnam earlier this month.

The histamine poisoning foodborne outbreak was linked to frozen tuna loins from Vietnam, via the Netherlands.

Local authorities were responsible for the outbreak investigation and tracing of food batches. The Swedish Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) is the national contact point for Europe’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

Mats Lindblad, from the Swedish Food Agency, said about 30 people were sick but no deaths were reported.

“Symptoms were typical for histamine poisoning and included swelling, hives, irregular heartbeat, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting,” he told Food Safety News.

RASFF Alert – Foodborne Outbreak – Histamine – Tuna Loins

RASFF-Logo

RASFF – foodborne outbreak (histamine poisoning) caused by frozen tuna loins from Vietnam, via the Netherlands in Sweden

Canada-Updated Food Recall Warning – Certain O/W Ahi Tuna products recalled due to histamine

Canada Gov

Recall details

Ottawa, March 6, 2020 – The food recall warning issued on February 28, 2020 has been updated to include additional distribution and product information. This additional information was identified during the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) food safety investigation.

Save-On-Foods is recalling certain O/W Ahi Tuna products from the marketplace due to elevated levels of histamine. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

Recalled products

Brand Product Size UPC Codes Additional Information
Pricesmart O/W Ahi Tuna Variable Starts with 226248 All units sold from September 18, 2019 to November 6, 2019, inclusive Sold at Pricesmart stores in British Columbia
Save on Foods O/W Ahi Tuna Variable Starts with 226248 All units sold from November 7, 2019 to February 28, 2020, inclusive Sold at Pricesmart stores in British Columbia
Urban Fare O/W Ahi Tuna Variable Starts with 226248 All units sold from September 18, 2019 to February 28, 2020, inclusive Sold at Urban Fare stores in Alberta and British Columbia

What you should do

If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor.

Check to see if you have the recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with high levels of histamine may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Histamines are not destroyed by cooking. High levels of histamine in fish can cause an allergic-type reaction known as scombroid poisoning. Symptoms can include burning throat, diarrhea, dizziness, facial swelling, headache, vomiting and peppery taste in mouth.

Background

This recall was triggered by consumer complaints. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace.

Illnesses

There have been no reported reactions associated with the consumption of these products. However, there were reported reactions associated with the products included in the Food Recall Warning on February 25, 2020.

Product photos

Printer ready version of photos

  • Pricesmart: O/W Ahi Tuna - Variable
  • Save on Foods: O/W Ahi Tuna - Variable
  • Urban Fare: O/W Ahi Tuna - Variable

RASFF Alert – Food Poisoning Suspected (scombroid syndrome) – Frozen Red Tuna Loins (Thunnus albacares)

RASFF-Logo

RASFF – food poisoning suspected (scombroid syndrome) to be caused by frozen red tuna loins (Thunnus albacares) from Vietnam, via the Netherlands in Italy

USA – Outbreak Investigation of Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning: Yellowfin/Ahi Tuna (November 2019)

Outbreak appears to be over; yellowfin tuna imported from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with production dates in 2019 should still be discarded, if found.

FDA

January 24, 2020

Recommendations

Yellowfin tuna from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019 should not be consumed because it may have the potential to cause scombrotoxin fish poisoning. Tuna from this supplier could have been sold thawed or frozen; and could have been sold as ground tuna meat, poke cubes, steaks, or loins; this product could still be within its shelf life.­­ Anyone who received tuna from this supplier should not sell, serve, or consume it and should discard it. If you purchased tuna from one of the importers listed below you should confirm that it was not tuna supplied by Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019. The following companies imported tuna from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD:

  • Mical Seafood Inc. (Davie, FL)
  • Northern Fisheries LTD (Little Compton, RI)
  • Alfa International Seafood Inc. (Medley, FL)
  • Aquabest Seafood LLC (Miami, FL)
  • Gamma Seafood Corporation (Medley, FL)
  • J. DeLuca Fish Company, Inc. (San Pedro, CA)
  • Sym-Pac International Inc. (Corona, CA)
  • Worldwide Seafood Products LLC (Perth Amboy, NJ)

Scombrotoxin fish poisoning occurs when fish is not properly chilled or preserved and begins to spoil, resulting in increased histamine levels. Histamine cannot be destroyed by freezing or cooking.

Importers, Suppliers, and Distributors:

Importers, suppliers, and distributors should not use and should discard or destroy any yellowfin tuna imported from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019.

Restaurants and Retailers:

Restaurants and retailers should contact their suppliers to confirm the source of their yellowfin tuna because not all product was distributed in packaging that identifies Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD. Yellowfin tuna imported from this company with a production date in 2019 should not be used, served, repacked, or sold; and should be discarded.

Consumers:

While restaurants and retailers should have removed yellowfin tuna with a production date in 2019 from the Vietnamese supplier Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD, consumers should ask if the yellowfin tuna being served or sold was imported from the Vietnamese supplier Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD and has a production date in 2019.

Update January 24, 2020

This outbreak appears to be over. The last reported illness for this outbreak was on November 24, 2019. Yellowfin tuna from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019 should still not be consumed. At this time, Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD has not shipped product in 2020 and remains on Import Alert, which provides information to FDA field staff that they may detain the firm’s yellowfin tuna without physical examination. Detained product will not enter the United States unless the importer proves that it meets U.S. food safety standards.

When the firm initially declined to recall, the FDA issued public warnings for importers, suppliers, distributors, and consumers. After the FDA public warning, the company recalled some of the product. FDA evaluated the effectiveness of the recalls and determined that the recalls may have not effectively removed all potentially harmful products from the market, so on December 26, 2019, the FDA released a list of importers of Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD tuna to help suppliers and distributors to identify product. FDA further worked with companies throughout the supply chain to facilitate recalls; and was able to ensure that all importers with tuna still available initiated recalls.

In addition, the FDA notified the Vietnamese government after learning that some tuna products had been returned to Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD in Vietnam. In response, the Vietnamese government issued an official letter to all relevant Vietnamese agencies instructing them to monitor and detain shipments of Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD tuna upon arrival at ports in Vietnam. This action was taken to prevent the use of this product in Vietnam and its re-export to other countries, including the U.S.

USA – Investigation of Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning Linked to Yellowfin/Ahi Tuna, Fall 2019

FDA

Case Counts

Total Illnesses: 50
Hospitalizations: 1
Deaths: 0
Last illness onset: November 24, 2019
States with Cases: DE (6), MA (2), MD (4), MN (2), NJ (2), NY (6), OH (11), PA (6), RI (3), VT (7), WV (1)

December 26, 2019

FDA has determined that recalls of yellowfin tuna supplied by Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD have not effectively removed  potentially harmful products from the market. FDA recommends that importers, suppliers, distributors, restaurants, and retailers who purchased tuna from one of the importers listed should confirm that it was not tuna supplied by Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019.  If it was it should be destroyed or discarded. These firms are being named to effectuate the removal of product from the market due to the reporting of additional illnesses linked to product from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD. The following companies imported tuna from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD:

  • Mical Seafood Inc. (Davie, FL)
  • Northern Fisheries LTD. (Little Compton, RI)
  • Alfa International Seafood Inc. (Medley, FL)
  • Aquabest Seafood LLC (Miami, FL)
  • Gamma Seafood Corporation (Medley, FL)
  • J. DeLuca Fish Company, Inc. (San Pedro, CA)
  •  Sym-Pac International Inc. (Corona, CA)
  • Worldwide Seafood Products LLC (Perth Amboy, NJ)

Recommendations

Yellowfin tuna from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019 should not be consumed because it may have the potential to cause scombrotoxin fish poisoning. Tuna from this supplier could have been sold thawed or frozen; and could have been sold as ground tuna meat, poke cubes, steaks, or loins; this product could still be within its shelf life.­­ Anyone who received tuna from this supplier should not sell, serve, or consume it and should discard it. If you purchased tuna from one of the importers listed above you should confirm that it was not tuna supplied by Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019.

Scombrotoxin fish poisoning occurs when fish is not properly chilled or preserved and begins to spoil, resulting in increased histamine levels. Histamine cannot be destroyed by freezing or cooking.

Importers, Suppliers, and Distributors:

Importers, suppliers, and distributors should not use and should discard or destroy any yellowfin tuna imported from Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD with a production date in 2019.

Restaurants and Retailers:

Restaurants and retailers should contact their suppliers to confirm the source of their yellowfin tuna because not all product was distributed in packaging that identifies Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD. Yellowfin tuna imported from this company with a production date in 2019 should not be used, served, repacked, or sold; and should be discarded.

Consumers:

While restaurants and retailers should have removed yellowfin tuna with a production date in 2019 from the Vietnamese supplier Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD, consumers should ask if the yellowfin tuna being served or sold was imported from the Vietnamese supplier Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD and has a production date in 2019.