Don't Order Fish Without Asking This First, FDA Says in New Warning
The agency is investigating the latest concerning food outbreak.
From baked salmon to shrimp cocktails, it's hard to pass up a good seafood meal. But while this food group is generally considered healthy, it does not come without danger. In fact, the U.S. Food Drug and Administration (FDA) is currently investigating a potentially deadly outbreak that has been linked to a popular seafood company. Want to keep yourself safe from fish tainted with Salmonella? Read on to find out what the FDA is urging you to ask when you're eating out.
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Millions of foodborne illnesses occur every year in the U.S.
We all have different issues eating certain foods, but when the same problem arises among many people, the FDA steps in. "When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne illness outbreak," the agency explains. According to the FDA, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. annually—which equates to 1 in 6 Americans being sickened by the food they eat every single year.
When multiple people get infected with a foodborne illness, the FDA is responsible for investigating the outbreak to prevent more Americans from getting sick through contaminated food. Now, the agency is doing just that, alerting Americans to an investigation concerning a new food-related outbreak in the U.S.
The FDA is investigating a Salmonella outbreak tied to fish.
The FDA issued an Outbreak Advisory on Oct. 19, warning Americans about a new Salmonella outbreak affecting people in multiple states. The agency reports that there have been a total of 33 illness connected with this specific outbreak. These infections have also resulted in 13 hospitalizations, but no deaths have been reported so far.
According to the alert, the FDA is still investigating infections but has linked them to food supplied by the popular seafood wholesaler Mariscos Bahia, Inc. An environmental sample was collected from the food company's facility in Pico Rivera, California, and the FDA said that multiple swabs tested positive for Salmonella, with at least one matching the current strain causing this outbreak.
"The firm (Mariscos Bahia) is cooperating with the FDA investigation and has agreed to initiate a voluntary recall," the agency wrote. "As a part of the firm's voluntary recall, the firm will contact its direct customers who received recalled product."
The agency says you should ask this question before ordering fish.
You likely won't find any of this contaminated food in your freezer or fridge. Mariscos Bahia, Inc. said it only sold seafood "directly to restaurants in California and Arizona and would not be available for purchase by consumers in stores," according to the FDA. But the agency is advising people in these two states to check one thing before eating certain fish: "Consumers eating salmon, halibut, Chilean seabass, tuna, and swordfish at a restaurant in California or Arizona should ask whether the fish is from Mariscos Bahia, Inc. and was received fresh, not frozen," the FDA warned.
The outbreak has been directly linked to "fresh, raw salmon" supplied from Mariscos Bahia, Inc. Nevertheless, the FDA is still advising caution for consumers eating many different types of fish because the presence of Salmonella found in the Pico Rivera facility "indicates that additional types of fish processed in the same area of the facility could also be contaminated, which includes fresh, raw halibut, Chilean seabass, tuna, and swordfish."
The agency also warns that while distribution has only been confirmed for Arizona and California, the contaminated "product could have been distributed further, reaching additional states." In fact, at least one illness in this outbreak has been reported in Illinois.
If you develop Salmonella symptoms, contact your doctor.
The FDA says that most people infected with Salmonella will begin to develop symptoms 12 to 72 hours after being infected with a contaminated food. Common symptoms of this illness include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, but if you develop a more severe case, you could also experience high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, and blood in the urine or stool. "Consumers who have symptoms should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care," the FDA advised in its alert concerning the Mariscos Bahia, Inc. outbreak.
The agency also notes that some Salmonella cases "may become fatal." According to the CDC, it is estimated that approximately 420 people in the U.S. die each year from acute salmonellosis, which is the name of the sickness caused by this bacteria. "Some people—especially children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems—may experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization," the CDC warns. "In general, people who are at higher risk for serious foodborne illness should not eat any raw fish or raw shellfish."