Federal and state health officials are investigating the potential hepatitis A contamination of frozen yellowfin tuna distributed by Hilo Fish Company to restaurants and other customers in California, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.
The risk of contamination was discovered in mid-May after Hilo Fish tested samples of frozen tuna provided by the Sustainable Seafood Company of Vietnam and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc. of the Philippines.
Earlier, in May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that people who consumed raw tuna products from several supermarkets and restaurants on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, between April 27 and May 1 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. That fish was distributed by Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC, a subsidiary distributor of Hilo Fish, and was recalled on May 1.
After the initial hepatitis A contamination was discovered in Hawaii, Hilo Fish submitted additional samples of the imported tuna for testing and those tests revealed additional positive results, prompting another recall on May 18.
The current recall includes 8-ounce individually vacuum packed bags of tuna steaks with a production date code of 627152, lot number 166623, and expiration date 2018-10-01. Also included in the recall are frozen yellowfin tuna cubes, individually vacuum packed in a 15 lb. case with date code 705342, lot number 173448, and expiration date 2019-04-01.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is not aware of any illnesses linked to the latest recalled products, but it is advising post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated persons who may have consumed the potentially contaminated tuna within the past two weeks.
Restaurants and other retailers should take appropriate actions to ensure that the recalled products are not served to consumers, the FDA advised. Businesses that served the recalled products within the last two weeks should contact their local health department and, if possible, notify their consumers about possible exposure to hepatitis A virus.
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 is usually 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 of hepatitis A in adults include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool. Symptoms often don’t manifest until 15 to 50 days after consuming a contaminated food or drink.
Anyone who believes they have consumed the potentially contaminated tuna is advised to see a doctor.