April 16, 2012 -- Tainted tuna appears to be the source of a 20-state salmonella outbreak, according to the CDC and FDA.
Nearly 30 tons of tuna have been recalled by Moon Marine USA Corp., also known as MMI, of Cupertino, Calif. The frozen product is made up of raw tuna "backmeat" scraped from the bones." It's called Nakaochi Scrape and is made at a processing facility in India.
The product looks like raw ground tuna. It's not sold directly to consumers, but is widely used in sushi, sashimi, ceviche, and similar dishes. "Spicy tuna" dishes often contain the product.
Investigators have identified seven clusters of people who became ill after eating sushi from the same restaurant or grocery store. Of the four clusters fully investigated, all received the Nakaochi Scrape from the India facility.
The original product packages carry the Moon Marine or MMI name and are labeled Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA. But these boxes may have been broken into smaller lots for resale. Individual groceries, restaurants, or consumers may not be able to tell whether the product came from the recalled lots.
Since Jan. 28, 116 people have fallen ill with the same unusual salmonella strain, Salmonella strain Bareilly. Twelve people have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths so far.
The 20 states where people fell ill are: Alabama (2 cases), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (5), 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). There were two cases of illness in the District of Columbia.
People who become ill from salmonella-contaminated food usually get diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 hours to three days after eating the tainted item. Illness usually lasts four to seven days.
Most people get better without treatment. But if the diarrhea is particularly severe, a person may need to be hospitalized. In some of these cases, the salmonella bacteria escape the gut and enter the bloodstream. Such infections can be fatal without antibiotic treatment.
Infants, older adults, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are at particular risk of severe salmonella infection.
If you think you may have become ill after eating raw tuna -- particularly "spicy tuna" -- contact a health-care provider immediately.
Because the contaminated tuna was frozen, it may still be appearing in raw fish preparations. The FDA warns consumers to be sure that any raw seafood they eat is free of Nakaochi Scrape.