CDC: Salmonella Outbreak Could Continue For Months
By Carlton Purvis
Created 06/25/2012 - 11:48
By Carlton Purvis
The CDC says 390 have been sickened by salmonella-contaminated sushi and a food safety attorney calls for accountability.
The number of cases in a multi-state salmonella outbreak stands at 390, but could continue to rise for the next several months, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Cases have been reported in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
In March, the New York State Department of Health notified the CDC of a group of people infected with salmonella. By the next day 11 people in seven states were reporting similar symptoms, prompting the CDC to open an investigation. Two weeks later, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported another group of sick people who all ate at the same Japanese restaurant.
“Preliminary information from 22 ill persons revealed that in the week before illness 80 percent reported eating seafood and 55 percent reported eating sushi. Among eight ill persons who reported the type of sushi, all reported eating tuna,” according to the CDC.
April 13, Moon Marine USA Corporation voluntarily recalled 59,000 pounds of Nakaochi Scrape, a frozen yellow fin tuna used for sushi and the FDA issued alerts for tuna from Moon Fishery India. Additional investigation found salmonella at the fishery and in a spicy tuna roll made with recalled tuna. Lab tests found salmonella on 96 percent of samples taken from tuna from Moon Marine.
The CDC has not released an estimate of the number of restaurants that received tuna from Moon Marine USA.
The outbreak may have seen its peak already, but “may continue at a low level for the next several months since some food establishments may be unaware that they received recalled product and continue to serve this frozen raw yellow fin tuna product, which has a long shelf-life,” says the CDC. A Washington-based food borne illness litigation firm says that needs to change.
On June 22, Marler Clark attorney Bill Marler called on Moon Marine USA to release its distribution list, noting that restaurants were still unaware of potentially dangerous tuna that could still be on the market. Clark filed one of the first lawsuits related to the outbreak.
“One of the interesting things that the CDC finds is that for every one person they count, there’s about 29 people who are part of the outbreak that became sick who are not counted. So we’re really looking at over 5,000 people sickened by this product across the United States,” Marler said in a video posted to YouTube in May.
Unlike the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not maintain a retailer distribution list during an outbreak, the Food Poison Journal reports.
“Withholding that information is clearly not in the best interest of public health and has only served to allow more people to become ill,” Marler said in a statement released Friday.