Outbreak of salmonella leads to recall of ahi
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into the source of a salmonella outbreak on Oahu has led to the discovery of contaminated yellowfin tuna at at least one distributor.
Choyce Products announced yesterday that it has voluntarily recalled 11,000 pounds of previously frozen yellowfin tuna that tested positive for salmonella.
"Our main concern is safety," said Edmund Choy, owner of Choyce Products, in a news release. "We immediately issued a voluntary recall on that shipment and confirmed that our customers do not have any ahi from that parcel in our inventory."
About 5,000 pounds of the contaminated ahi was sold to some five businesses, but it was not clear how much was recovered or if any had already been sold to consumers, a spokeswoman for the company said.
Choyce is one of about 40 seafood distributors on Oahu.
The state Department of Health has been investigating an outbreak of a rare strain of salmonella, Paratyphi B, confirmed in 33 cases since October but seen in only three cases last month.
The Health Department believes the illnesses are related to previously frozen ahi which was imported to Hawaii and eaten raw.
It is not yet clear if the salmonella strain found at Choyce's is the Paratyphi B strain.
Salmonella, which can be killed by cooking, is a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within hours. Most people recover without treatment.
While not necessarily more dangerous, the "cluster" outbreak of Paratyphi B caught the attention of state officials because it is usually found in about five cases a year.
Salmonella cases, which number about 300 a year, are usually unrelated, but a cluster outbreak presents the chance to prevent more cases if the source is located, said Janice Okubo, Health Department spokeswoman.
FDA officials were visiting local distributors to find the source of the Paratyphi B outbreak when it found the contamination at Choyce's on Tuesday, the company's spokeswoman said.
Choyce, a wholesaler that sells to restaurants and retail outlets on Oahu, will destroy the contaminated ahi according to FDA standards.