Sushi Sickness: CDC Reports Spicy Tuna Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Categories: Wake Up Call

SushiMikeSaechang.jpg
Mike Saechang/Flickr
Spicy tuna or spicy salmonella?
The CDC is tracking a sushi centered salmonella outbreak that has sickened 116 people so far. Of that number, 12 were sick enough to be hospitalized. The CDC has only interviewed about half of the people affected by this outbreak but among those people 91% reported eating sushi prior to becoming ill and 84% reported eating some form of spicy tuna. Due to the lag between when a person ingests the bacteria and when they become sick enough to seek medical attention, there will almost undoubtedly be more cases on the way. So far it appears that our fair state has been spared, with the highest number of cases appearing in New York and Wisconsin.

Thankfully, the CDC has isolated the type of salmonella (Salmonella Bareilly) and identified the likely source of the outbreak: yellowtail tuna "Nakaochi Scrape" from Cupertino, California based Moon Marine USA Corporation. The FDA is reporting that Moon Marine has voluntarily recalled 58,828 pounds of the offending product.

The CDC says that Nakaochi scrape "is tuna backmeat that is scraped from the bones of tuna" and looks like ground tuna. Some are equating this to "pink slime" although the CDC has yet to identify exactly how the harmful bacteria contaminated the product in the first place. Initial investigations at four of the outbreak sites has revealed that all four locations received the same imported product from a single processing plant in India.

Considering that just last month NPR reported fish are involved in almost half of the cases of illness caused by imported foods, it might be worth taking it easy on the spicy tuna until the CDC and FDA get this all sorted out. Or it might be worth simply talking to your sushi chef and seeing if they use pre-ground fish in their rolls.

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