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Put Down Those Chopsticks! There’s a Salmonella Tuna Outbreak

Posted in Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls,Salmonella on April 16, 2019

First, its pre-cut melons. Now its sushi, well tuna to be more specific. April is turning into a busy month for outbreaks. We are in the midst of a Salmonella Tuna Outbreak. Here’s what you need to know:

The Outbreak

Earlier this evening, the CDC announced that they were investigating another multi-state Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen raw tuna products. The CDC’s announcement comes just one day after the April 15, 2019 announcement by Jensen Tuna in Houma, Louisiana where they voluntarily recalled frozen ground tuna products.

At this time, there are 13 confirmed illnesses in 7 states. Two people have been hospitalized, and there are no reports of deaths at this time.  Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. So, more cases may be added to the outbreak numbers.

Based on the latest CDC data, those who were sick range in age from 29 to 85 years, with a median age of 40. Fifty-four percent are female.

The states involved in the outbreak are: Washington, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, New York, and Connecticut.

Map of United States - People infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella, by state of residence, as of April 15, 2019

The breakdown of these illnesses by state is as follows:

State Ill People
Connecticut 1
Iowa 1
Illinois 1
Minnesota 1
New York 1
North Dakota 4
Washington 4
Total 13

The time range for those who have confirmed illnesses ranges from January 8, 2019 to March 20, 2019.

Epi curve of people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella, by date of illness onset, as of April 15, 2019

Based on the epidemiological evidence, the CDC confirmed:

“In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Nine (75%) of 12 people interviewed reported eating sushi from a restaurant or grocery store. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 5% reported eating sushi, sashimi, or ceviche made with raw fish or shellfish in the week before they were interviewed. Of the nine people with information about their sushi exposure, nine (100%) reported eating a sushi item containing raw tuna or raw “spicy tuna.” ”

The CDC uses this data to determine a common source of infection, in this case, frozen raw tuna. According to their website, they:

“work quickly to collect as much information as possible to find out what is causing it, so they can take action to prevent more people from getting sick. During an investigation, health officials collect three types of data: epidemiologic, traceback, and food and environmental testing.

Health officials assess all of these types of data together to try to find the likely source of the outbreak. They take action, such as warning the public, when there is clear and convincing information linking illness to a contaminated food.”

This is where the FDA joins the party. The FDA and other health officials traced the source of the raw tuna by focusing on the restaurants where ill people ate sushi. Their traceback evidence indicated that (1) those sick at at those restaurants; and (2) the restaurants used frozen ground tuna supplied by Jensen Tuna.

Further traceback has confirmed that the Jensen Tuna was sourced from JK Fish of Vietnam.

The Recall

In the wake of the outbreak, Jensen Tuna is recalling its tun products. According to the FDA:

“On April 15, 2019, following discussions with the FDA, CDC, and state partners, Jensen Tuna initiated a voluntarily recall of their frozen ground tuna imported from JK Fish of Vietnam. The recalled tuna was individually packaged in one-pound bags and sold in 20-pound boxes to distributors in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Washington under lot numbers z266, z271, and z272.”

It is important to not that the recalled products may have been redistributed to additional states.

The FDA noted that:

“It is unlikely that the recalled ground tuna was sold directly to consumers in grocery stores; rather, it was likely used in food dishes sold by restaurants or retailers. Consumers with concerns should ask their restaurants and retailers whether the tuna dish they are purchasing contains the recalled ground tuna.”

CDC and FDA Recommend

Restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve recalled frozen, ground tuna from Jensen Tuna.

If you or someone you love is sick or has become sick after eating raw tuna products, medical attention is recommended. Salmonella infections begin to show symptoms within 6 to 72 hours after eating a Salmonella contaminated food product. Signs and symptoms of such infection include:

  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
  • abdominal pain

Urgent medical attention is recommended because illnesses may become severe enough to require hospitalization. Also, Salmonella infections may become invasive and cause additional complications like reactive arthritis or a blood infection. Early medical attention can help reduce the risk of more severe illness and long-term complications.

In the meantime, the investigation is still ongoing. It is still possible that more cases may be added to this outbreak, and a Salmonella lawsuit or two may be in the future. The CDC reminds consumers to ask before they eat. Anyone who orders sushi or sashimi products made with raw tuna should take caution and ask the restaurant or grocery store if the tuna in their meal was from Jensen Tuna. If not sure, consumers should not eat it.

The Lange Law Firm

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Salmonella food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you were infected with Salmonella after eating fresh cut melon or melon mixes and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we have a Salmonella lawyer ready to help you.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola, Editor (Non-Lawyer)